“Homo Economicus Might Actually Be An Idiot”

Dr. Michael LaitmanIn the News (from Bloomberg): “Imagine yourself betting on the long-term survival of two types of people. One is the classic egoist, focused and ruthless. The other is more selfless, willing to help fellow humans without any evident gain. Who will be more successful?

“For anyone steeped in the prevailing thinking of our era, the obvious winner is the egoist. Darwinian evolution and the lore of modern capitalism tell us that only fierce competitors survive. Altruists, the game theorists teach us, are mathematically incapable of achieving dominance. Acts of cooperation are either errors born of ignorance or purely selfish strategic moves aimed at getting something of greater value.

“The idea that biological competition favors the greedy, creating the ultrarational and incentive-driven Homo economicus, remains at the core of the models economists use to understand the world.

“Problem is, the ‘hard-headed,’ supposedly scientific take on human behavior bears little relation to reality. An overwhelming body of research demonstrates that helping behaviors (or, as economists like to say, ‘other-regarding preferences’) are the norm in human interactions around the globe. This raises the question: If it really does pay to be greedy, why do humans act differently?

“So far, there’s no definitive answer. But there is some evidence that rational self-interest isn’t always the best strategy. In conditions of harsh competition, Homo economicus might not prevail.

“In many simulations, the nice species ended up doing better than Homo economicus. How? The cooperative types tended to cluster and interact with one another preferentially, thereby benefiting from each other’s selfless behavior. The researchers called the winning species Homo socialis — quite rightly, as it isn’t blind to the potential of social interactions to enhance well-being.

“The take-home point is that Homo economicus is an oversimplified caricature who, in many situations, fails to benefit from real possibilities. Greed isn’t good, as Gordon Gekko famously said in the film “Wall Street.” In many cases, it’s not even very smart.”

My Comment: Studies, though far from complete, are right. The question is how to bring these 7 billion egoists to reason? The method of integral education offers a means of correcting human nature. Undoubtedly, sooner or later, meaning after having suffered, we all will begin to see the need of its realization.

Related Material:
Altruism: No More Than 10% Or All 100%
The Wonderful Metamorphosis Of A Notorious Egoist
An Altruistic “Shirt” For Egoism

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