Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Goodness, evilness makes you powerful' - like the Force....or Steve Jobs.

Profs at Harvard uni, Cambridge, America, say they have discovered a crucial meta-physiological effect. Being extremely good and moral - or conversely highly evil - actually confers mental and even physical powers on a person.
"People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort," says Kurt Gray of Harvard. "By perceiving themselves as good or evil, people embody these perceptions, actually becoming more capable of physical endurance."
Rather than those naturally endowed with superior abilities having the potential to achieve great things for good or evil, says Gray, it is more the case that being very pure or deeply villainous confers corresponding powers.
"Gandhi or Mother Teresa may not have been born with extraordinary self-control, but perhaps came to possess it through trying to help others," argues Gray.  Conversely, Steve Jobs may have gained his physical ability to fight back from the edge of death from cancer by ruthlessly destroying the rivals of Apple.  Perhaps he even gains strength from the knowledge that he personally contributed to the destruction of the music industry business model.  
The Harvard egghead bases his assertions on studies in which subjects were given a dollar and offered the choice of donating it to charity or selfishly keeping it. It turned out that the charitable types were then able to hold up a 5 lb weight significantly longer than those who sniggeringly trousered the cash.  

This sort of disproves the Jobs/Apple model....since they are hoarding tens of billions in cash.   But wait...this effect only worked for the really good people.  It does explain why the previously evil Bill Gates quit Microsoft and is now sort of the Mother Teresa of philanthropists.  Now that Gates is pure goodness....maybe he's still getting the same buzz as when he was Darth Vader.
Similarly, other subjects who wrote stories in which they did good deeds turned out to be noticeably stronger than those whose tales depicted them neither harming nor helping others.  Again...its seems that the study implies that you cannot be on the fence about good vs. evil.  You have to be one or the other.
Worryingly, though, test subjects who wrote stories in which they figured as baleful malefactors turned out to be even stronger than the goody-goodies.  So evil seems to win out against good in that part of the study.  

"Whether you're saintly or nefarious, there seems to be power in moral events," Gray says.

There's truth, then, in Sir Galahad's lines in Tennyson, where he states that "my strength is as the strength of ten/because my heart is pure".  Which is the poler opposite of “Blazing Saddles’” Mongo, (Alex Karras) who woefully stated that"  Mongo is  but a pawn in the game of life”.  
Obviously, without the strength of pure goodness or pure evil on your are just a pawn in the game of life as well....maybe a sheep.    

Going back to Apple versus Microsoft....maybe Jobs is Darth Vader and Gates is Yoda and the iPad is the Death Star.  Stay tuned.


Bill Cole said...

I think that in order to be successful there is a certain amount of narrow focus on the outcome you desire. Is that ruthlessness or is it more a sense of purpose? Having been a ground commander during combat operations I can say there is a certain amount of evil that enters a soldiers mind when it comes to closing with and destroying his enemy. It is about his survival. You can be an effective leader and not be evil, but there are times when goodness isn't in the plan.

From Eagle Chief (Letakos-Lesa) Pawnee comes a very profound quote.

"All things in the world are two. In our minds we are two, good and evil. With our eyes we see two things, things that are fair and things that are ugly.... We have the right hand that strikes and makes for evil, and we have the left hand full of kindness, near the heart. One foot may lead us to an evil way, the other foot may lead us to a good. So are all things two, all two."

I have seen this in myself. The dark and evil side. Robs me of my humanity. I keep it locked away and never hope to see it ever again.

Chip said...

Bill, I think being raised by wolves creates a special sensitivity to this issue. Agree that focus on outcome is sort of a moral imperative by itself....and the wolves teach that you either eat or you don't. Whether you eat or not, and whether you die of starvation or not has it own ethical pureness that rationalizes all kinds of behavior.

Enjoyed your blog.

Bill Cole said...

I agree with you about what the wolves have taught me. The legs feed the wolf so we constantly move forward, And we only kill to eat not decimate the source to nonexistence. Driving your competitors out of business kills the one factor that is truly necessary Innovation. If Apple had died I doubt seriously if a lot of things we have today would exist or would be as good. Not being an Apple fanboy, but they have really kicked some butt over the years when they were given up for dead.

As for Steve jobs, while he is a bit of a meglomaniac at times, he has pushed his companies not to dominate the marketplace but to constantly be the upstart.

So in my own way I will continue to be a wolf and a pack leader. Culling only what I need to survive and maintain balance. Is this a formula for success to being totally dominant? I will just say it has always worked well for me.

I enjoy your blog as well.