Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Genie Is Handing Out Some Money: The Graph of Evil

I found an interesting website detailing a cute way to graph morals. It's not all-inclusive and it doesn't account for numerous "what-if" situations, but it's a fun exercise.

Say you meet a magical genie, and he promises to give you a dollar, with no repurcussions to anyone else. Do you take it?

Well. Duh.

Say he'll give you a dollar, and a stranger a dollar, do you take it? Now he'll only give you the dollar while also taking a stranger's dollar away? What if he gives you two dollars and takes the stranger's dollar?

You can kind of see where this is going now. It creates a fun graph like this:

With a minor amount of thought and a little bit more paint skill, I've determined this is what my graph looks like:

Besides making me want some watermelon, the colors represent the areas I would not accept the genie's offer (reddish-pink) and the areas that I would accept (light green).

I decided that as long as I was getting as much or more money than was being taken away from the stranger, I wouldn't care because the net value of the genie's actions is good. I also don't care if the stranger gets more money than me because as long as I'm getting money, why the hell do I care how much some other guy is getting (this is of course assuming there could be no bartering with the genie).

But I'm definitely never going to lose money, even if someone else gets money. I'm assuming that it is always a stranger getting the money, so I don't even get the satisfaction of knowing the money is going to someone who deserves it, or someone I even like. The money could go to Bill Gates, and here I am out a dollar. Why would I lose money so some other person can get money and I don't even get emotional benefit (much like gift giving usually provides)?

This, according to the website, puts me somewhere between logical and proud. I'll let you go see the graphs for yourself if you want, but I've colored in the area difference:

Logical included the green plus the blue area, proud only included the green area.

I guess logical is assuming that as long as the net gain/loss is at least equal, or someone is at least getting something, then it's a good deal. I'm too sefish for that. Proud thinking is that I should always get more or equal to the stranger, but heck man, money is money. I'll take whatever I can get, even if the other person gets more.

This was an entertaining exercise, at the very least. I don't know that I learned anything about myself, but it's kind of cute.

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