Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Richard Dawkins' "A Christmas Carol"

  [vote for,

The story of a miserly Victorian accountant called Marley, who, having behaved with a despicable lack of compassion and motivated entirely by greed, awakes on Christmas night to find an unfamiliar figure standing next to his bed.

The intruder informs the terrified man that he is neither a robber nor a ghost, and indeed there are no such things as ghosts; he is a professor of philosophy.

Setting up a portable video projector, the prof. proceeds to explain that eventually Marley will die, after which his existence and personal experience will cease. There is no afterlife, no God, nothing beyond the world that Marley perceives with his limited senses. Religion is just a set of carefully-contrived lies to keep the lower orders satisfied with their miserable lot and stop them from rebelling, in the hope of some nebulous future benefit if they are "good".

By extensive use of statistics, it is demonstrated beyond doubt that human beings are - and always have been, and always will be - selfish, vicious, venal creatures, disguised with a thin, fragile veneer of self-deception and expedient duplicity called "civilization".

Having informed his audience that his new book is now available to pre-order, the prof. packs up his equipment and leaves.

The next day, Marley is a changed man. Having consulted his actuarial tables to calculate his likely remaining lifespan, he murders his partner Scrooge and thus gains total control of the business. He then proceeds on a rampage of embezzlement, Ponzi schemes, unscrupulous dealings and fraud, using the money to finance an increasingly garish, decadent and frivolous lifestyle until he eventually dies of old age in circumstances of great comfort and luxury, having never been caught, and being widely admired as a highly successful business role model.

8th of 7, Dec 20 2018

The Selfish Gene https://en.wikipedi...ki/The_Selfish_Gene
Worth reading [8th of 7, Dec 21 2018]

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       ....and everything was going extremely well for Marley until he ran for the leadership of his country and actually won the job.
AusCan531, Dec 20 2018

       This is brilliant, but it brings up that important question: why be good if guys like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler do so well by not being good if there's no god to punish you?   

       There's a philosophical ravine to cross from belief in god to belief in adhering to a structure of morality that's more effective for all the participants in a society than rampant anarchy.   

       I'd say that believing in the latter takes as much faith and suspension of disbelief as believing in the former.   

       I'm also not too trusting of a wave of ignorant atheists (yes, you can be both) that have come into the light of atheism and all they got out of it was throwing their moral compass away.   

       I propose there's an ascension of civility scale:   

       1- Being civil based on threats from a moral traffic cop in the sky. 2- Being free from any god imposed rules with the realization that was a legend. 3- Coming back to rules of civility simply because it's a better system. Delivery trucks get the goods to the market better in a society where we don't kill the delivery drivers and steal their shipments for instance. Then we all have more Amazon packages and don't live in a shithole.   

       I thinka lot of western society might be at step number 2, which can be a dangerous place to be.   

       That being said, this was a funny piece that doesn't invite serious philosophical discussion so ignore everything I just said.   

       8: "Already did."
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       // I'd say that believing in the latter takes as much faith and suspension of disbelief as believing in the former. //   

       Belief of any sort requires a suspension of disbelief as a prerequisite.   

       // throwing their moral compass away. //   

       The thing to do is go round and collect up all the discarded compasses; the brass ones, particularly if they're antique, can fetch strong money in the right market.
8th of 7, Dec 20 2018

       // I'd say that believing in the latter takes as much faith and suspension of disbelief as believing in the former.   

       Belief of any sort requires a suspension of disbelief as a prerequisite.//   

       I thought of going back and re-writing that and thought "Did it get the idea across? Then let it go."   

       Here: Believing in the latter is as much an act of blind faith as believing in the former.   

       Happy now? No? Well, I tried.
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       The proffered revision is acceptable.   

       We can keep this bag of compasses we've collected though, can't we ?
8th of 7, Dec 20 2018

       Sure, nobody else is using them.
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       Evolution created the god in our minds (and might eventually create ((and may have already created)) indistinguishable from pagan gods creatures. Whether the original spark came from such a god creature or is ultimately spontaneous is hardly relevant -- I suppose if we are a simulation the creator could have a level of omnipotence (in the same way that I as a game creator might have special god powers in the game I also play) -- but those levels of omnipotence and omniscience are basically cheats -- they're not true paradoxical omnipowers as examined by a philosopher.   

       Evolution is documented to support a level of altruism (which overlaps with what is called morality), simply because of a statistical distribution of outcomes. In other words, for the same reason that some Galapagos finches have longer beaks, and some doctors choose to be proctologists, most but not all humans have a reasonably high sense of empathy, which makes it logical to enshrine various "do unto others..." schemes.   

       This sense of empathy does not require god. The actual percentage of humans that will, say, drive a lost wallet to your address, is not meaningfully impacted by their belief in an afterlife. It is impacted by how altruism affects their serotonin levels.
theircompetitor, Dec 20 2018

       I've got a couple of controversial thoughts to throw into the piranha tank:   

       1- The Pope is probably an athiest as are many religious leaders. It's easier to ascend to power in a belief system where your competitors are held back by rules enforced by the unseen hand when you're not hampered by any such restriction. Plus he's a commie.   

       2- Belief in an invisible king may be an effective ploy to use against the actual king who wants to enslave you.   

       Roman emperor: "You're my slave, do what I tell you to do, have a miserable life then die. Let the last words to leave your mouth on your last breath be "Hail Caesar!".   

       Roman subject: "Fuck you, I'm swearing fealty to this turnip. All hail the omnipotent turnip. Let all bow down to it and while doing so flash our bare asses at this jerk Caesar."   

       These are my original thoughts and will be part of my proposed best seller: "How I Propose To Piss Off Absolutely Everybody With My Theories About Stuff".
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       The unabridged edition?   

       Certainly a commie. Not even a question.
theircompetitor, Dec 20 2018

       I'm sorry, I came here for an argument. This appears to be the wrong room.   

       Hmmm. How about:   

       "It's time we taxed the homeless. Time for these freeloaders to pay their fair share!"   

doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       //time we taxed the homeless//   


       <appoints [doc] tax collector general, with special responsibility for the new homelessness tax/>   

       OK get on with it then, by the way I've told the government you (well I wasn't going to tell them it was my idea, if this goes tits up I don't want it to be my balls in the vice do I) expect to raise four billion by April with this new tax.   

       Oh & fail to meet your targets & it's the crocodile pit for you son.
Skewed, Dec 20 2018

       There are strict rules about that sort of thing, you know. You must treat the crocodiles with respect, make sure their health and welfare needs are met, and allow them to express, as far as possible, natural behavior.   

       He's probably happy in his cardboard box round the back of Burger King. If you throw him in a crocodile pit, he'll just have his expectations raised.   

       // Discuss //   

       Observational evidence tends to indicate that the homeless are not enthusiastic about competing in Track and Field events.
8th of 7, Dec 20 2018

       //expect to raise four billion by April with this new tax.//   

       OK, good news is my office projects we will be able to raise four billion by April. The bad news is it's not 4 billion dollars. We will however meet our quota of old newspaper pages used for insulation against the cold, shopping carts used for transportation and tin cans converted into money collection devices.   

       8, I'm pretty sure PETA would take issue with feeding the homeless to crocodiles.   

       That being said, vote Remulac next election! Time for the poor and disavantaged to support the rich for a change.   

       Hmm. That gives me an idea.
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       // PETA would take issue with feeding the homeless to crocodiles //   

       That seething mob of militant vegans get hot under the collar when people bite their own fingernails.   

       It is fairly unusual, but not unknown, for crocodiles to incorporate humans into their diet. The alligators in Florida probably do better than the crocs in the rest of the world.   

       // Time for the poor and disavantaged to support the rich for a change. //   

       President Trump beat you to it on that one.
8th of 7, Dec 20 2018

       //bad news is it's not 4 billion dollars//   


       You know very well that was pound sterling!   

       <tightens vice/>   

       You leave these behind when you go in the pit.
Skewed, Dec 20 2018

       TheirC, just kidding, friendly discourse is welcome too. I'm just not very good at it.
doctorremulac3, Dec 20 2018

       You don't say ...   

       But skipping back a bit ...   

       // Evolution created the god in our minds //   

       Having a "god-shaped" space in your species' world view may well have conferred an evolutionary advantage. As is pointed out, a certain amount of altruism can be beneficial, and not just to humans. Many creatures that live on groups display "non-conscious" altruistic behavior. With lions, the females are either sisters, or very closely related; thus caring for all the pride's cubs is effectively preserving the same genetic line. Thus, while the individual lion may not benefit directly, the genes of that lion - or something nearly indistinguishable - do benefit. With meerkats on the other hand, vicious little buggers that they are, the alpha female will kill the offspring of any subordinate females.   

       So, how much of human altruism is [1] attributable to genetic factors (risking your life to rescue someone else's children from a fire because "it's the right thng to do") [2] attributable to upbringing and social conditioning (putting money in as charity box because that's what your parents always did) and (3) a genuine free-will decision based on a moral choice (handing in a wallet with money in it, found in a secluded spot).   

       In the third case, there is the option of personal gain without risk. No one saw you find the wallet; the owner doesn't know its location; you could even hand in the wallet without the cash and claim you found it like that, in the actual spot where you did find it. No-one can gainsay you; there is no possibility of retribution.   

       Yet wallets with money in them do get returned to their owners. Why ?
8th of 7, Dec 21 2018

       The other day I got an extra $20 from the ATM machine and I returned it to the heartless, soulless billion dollar organization that accidentally gave it to me due to a mechanical malfunction. It wasn't mine and if I didn't earn it, I don't want it.   

       Probably more a weird ego thing than virtue though.
doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2018

       I would suggest instances of wallets with money in being returned may fluctuate wildly depending on the need of the individual that finds it.   

       Can't see too many people who haven't eaten in two days not accidentally "returning" it to a food vendor of some ilk instead of the original owner.
Skewed, Dec 21 2018

       "The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor ... to steal bread." (Anatole France)
8th of 7, Dec 21 2018

       //I would suggest instances of wallets with money in being returned may fluctuate wildly depending on the need of the individual that finds it. //   

       sure -- the original point stands -- fear of god plays no role in the event
theircompetitor, Dec 21 2018

       My proposal is that the stages of human morality are:   

       1- Return wallet out of fear of omnipresent angry turnip god... 2- Keep wallet because there is no turnip god... 3- Return wallet because of a belief in social structures and the rule of law. The concept of delayed gratification for the better good is grasped.   

       But really somebody should study monkeys to see what they do to really get a grasp of the situation. Monkeys should be firmly locked in step 2 but maybe somebody should ask Jane Goodhall.
doctorremulac3, Dec 21 2018

       //The concept of delayed gratification for the better good is grasped//   

       That presumes that.   

       a) the receiver of the returned wallet can be expected to reward it's return. b) despite all evidence to the contrary the finder has any faith in a).   

       I'm afraid the whole construct probably collapses irretrievably in most cases at both a) & b).
Skewed, Dec 21 2018

       Cui bono if // The concept of delayed gratification for the better good is grasped. // ?   

       Consider; in the "lost wallet" scenario, all parties gain in some way, although that is not immediately obvious.   

       The finder gains the money, and can gain a small amount of gratification by returning the empty wallet.   

       The loser learns an important lesson in being more careful with their possessions. The financial loss is painful, and therefore more likely to reinforce the message. So although the loss may be bad at the time, indeed in some circumstances disastrous, the longer term view is that it may result in a positive change in behaviour - having the wallet on a chain or lanyard, carrying less cash, carrying it in a different pocket or garment.   

       Society as a whole may benefit in a general way, because no "common resource" i.e. police time is consumed in the process of logging the find and returning the wallet to the owner.   

       // somebody should study monkeys to see what they do //   

       They lie and cheat and steal and deceive one another. That's how it's known that they are very close to humans, evolutionarily.   

       They haven't yet taken the final critical step towards humanity of systematically predating their own kind. A bit more time sitting round the Black Slab will probably fix that.   

       // to really get a grasp of the situation. Monkeys should be firmly locked in step 2 //   

       Yup; apart from protecting "group" offspring, which is an innate behaviour, as in lions, because it perpetuates the specific gene pool (which is what it's all about). Plants and animals are just complicated ways of making more copies of specific DNA strands. <link>   

       Higher primates have been demonstrated to have self-awareness, consciousness (as humans understand the term) and reasoning skills at a level actually too high to function in many roles performed by humans ("What, me, do that ? You're 'avin a larf, ain't yer ?"). However, efforts to train them for armed combat have always failed, because they're nowhere near as violent, aggressive, sadistic and just generally unpleasant as humans.
8th of 7, Dec 21 2018

       If the all unzipped from a point.   

       In times of pressure an organism can eat itself to near death for survival but in usual normal conditions, it's an anabolism with slightly less catabolism. Although sad and part of the human experience, there are right wrongs.   

       Of course striving for more space and resources helps.
wjt, Dec 25 2018

       Yes please, [8th]. I think I would quite like reading your autobiography.
Voice, Dec 25 2018

       Tis a shame that I have but one bun to cast...
21 Quest, Dec 25 2018

       Have the croissants gone on a diet recently?
xenzag, Dec 25 2018

       It's because they're now made using GM wheat.   

       // I would quite like reading your autobiography. //   

       We could sell it to you, but then we'd have to kill you.
8th of 7, Dec 25 2018


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