Monthly Archives: September 2010

Surveillance vs. morality

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A beautiful essay by Emrys Westacott concludes

Ultimately, the ideal college is one in which every student is genuinely interested in learning and needs neither extrinsic motivators to encourage study, nor surveillance to deter cheating. Ultimately, the ideal society is one in which, if taxes are necessary, everyone pays them as freely and cheerfully as they pay their dues to some club of which they are devoted members – where citizen and state can trust each other perfectly. We know our present society is a long way from such ideals, yet we should be wary of practices that take us ever further from them. One of the goals of moral education is to cultivate a conscience – the little voice inside telling us that we should do what is right because it is right. As surveillance becomes increasingly ubiquitous, however, the chances are reduced that conscience will ever be anything more than the little voice inside telling us that someone, somewhere, may be watching.

I’ve often thought about how heavily I lean on the crutch of vanity, simply to exercise and eat right. And I’ve wondered, “How would it change me if everyone could read my mind?” Not for the better.

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Lovable liars

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Following up to “Truth is a niche market” and “If you aren’t real, you aren’t powerful“.

According to Jeff Wise

Indeed, a 1999 study by psychologist Robert Feldman at the University of Massachusetts showed that the most popular kids were also the most effective liars.

and

Good liars have the same gift as good communicators: the ability to get inside the listener’s head. Empathy not only clues you in to what your subject wants to hear, it will help you avoid stepping onto trip wires that will trigger their suspicions.