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Do Brighter Minds Incline to Honesty?
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Is honesty the best policy? In fact, in situations where people believe they will not be caught, it appears that honesty is considered a costly strategy. Many find that cheating pays, and judicious cheating seems sensible, particularly when it is enough to obtain advantage, without it being too obvious. Crafty.

Do the citizens of some countries cheat more than others? Yes, Gachter and Schulz (2016) found so, and their results are shown below.

Where the honest people are

Simon Gächter & Jonathan F. Schulz. Intrinsic honesty and the prevalence of rule
violations across societies. Nature, Letter doi:10.1038/nature17160

The authors argued thus:

Good institutions that limit cheating and rule violations, such as corruption, tax evasion and political fraud are crucial for prosperity and development. Yet, even very strong institutions cannot control all situations that may allow for cheating. Well-functioning societies also require the intrinsic honesty of citizens. Cultural characteristics, such as whether people see themselves as independent or part of a larger collective, that is, how individualist or collectivist a society is, might also influence the prevalence of rule violations due to differences in the perceived scope of moral responsibilities, which is larger in more individualist cultures.

If cheating is pervasive in society and goes often unpunished, then people might view dishonesty in certain everyday affairs as justifiable without jeopardising their self-concept of being honest. Experiencing frequent unfairness, an inevitable by-product of cheating, can also increase dishonesty. Economic systems, institutions and business cultures shape people’s ethical values, and can likewise impact individual honesty.

I described Gachter and Schultz’s work in April 2016, and thought I could immediately see a problem with the interpretation that the authors placed on the results. Putting forward a different perspective took a few days. Getting that new approach published has taken 2 years. For how long will researchers put up with these absurd delays which impede the prompt assessment of arguments?

The authors of this very interesting study, having revealed the cheats, interpreted the national differences as being due to cultural factors, particularly whether there were institutions in each society which encouraged honesty. Of course, this leaves open why one society would have such institutions and another would not. Culture must come from somewhere. A reasonable hypothesis is that the institutions of a county are built by the people who live there. Here is our reply:

Honesty, rule violation and cognitive ability: A reply to Gächter and Schulz
Heiner Rindermann, David Becker, James Thompson.
Intelligence, Volume 68, May–June 2018, Pages 66–69.

Our argument is that both institutions and honesty are determined by the intelligence of people, and that bright people can see the long-term benefits of honesty and of institutions that support honest behaviour. Any institution with a code of conduct leads its members toward probity, and shows prospective applicants what standards are expected of them. However, those institution do not arise randomnly.

Gächter & Schulz assumed that institutional rules affect individual honesty.
We added cognitive ability as further factor explaining national differences.
Stronger effect of IQ (total 0.55) than of rule violation (total −0.34) on honesty.
Stronger effect of IQ (total −0.68) than of honesty (total −0.26) on rule violation.
Gächter and Schulz (2016) assumed an effect of institutional rule violation on individual honesty within societies. In this reply we challenge this approach by including a nation’s cognitive ability as a further factor for cross-national variations in the prevalence of rule violations and intrinsic honesty. Theoretical considerations, correlational and path analyses show that a nation’s cognitive ability level (on average β = |.62|) better explains and predicts honesty and rule violation. While institutional and cultural factors are not unimportant, cognitive factors are more relevant.

The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others.

Cognitive ability seems to have the strongest causal effect on the honesty of a society:

intell and honesty rinder

The same pattern holds true if you assume that social levels of honesty intermediate individual levels of honesty as shown by rule violation.

intell and honesty rinder 2

Either way, it seems that intelligence explains whether some societies cheat at games and cheat in real life.

• Category: Science • Tags: IQ, Personality 
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  1. KA says:

    Society rots from top and doesn’t matter who is at the top. It still remains valid even when the so called least intellectually developed honest poor people get shafted for hundred of years by so called high IQ nations who bring cheating,dishonesty,and violations of existing laws and destruction of existing institutions without replacing them nationwide. Often these newly created institutions are nothing but vehicle to whitewash the corrupting and corrupted new system.

    Public moral status has a lot to do with corruption at the top -both local and international in these days of neoliberalism and post -colonization. It sounds painful and hurtful though.

  2. res says:

    Interesting work! I am amazed academics have the patience to deal with such a long lag time for letting arguments play out.

    Is there any chance of you publishing a scatter plot matrix of the variables you used and/or the data itself?

    Do you have the correlation matrix for your variables? By any chance did you try single and multiple variable models to try to predict rule violation from the other variables? It would be interesting to see how much variance an assortment of those models explained.

    Has anyone explored the idea of “cheater fraction” (analogous to smart fraction) to explain dishonesty in societies?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
    , @Joe Wong
  3. @res

    Cheater fraction sounds interesting. I assume that if it is higher than 16% then the society in question is worth avoiding, if at all possible.

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    , @Joe Wong
  4. Honesty can be anything, it’s look like obedience to authority instead true or pure honesty…

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  5. @Santoculto

    I mean, based on proto-concept used.

  6. So… ashekl jews [on very avg or not] are the exception in collective terms**

    • Agree: jacques sheete
    • Replies: @Tbbh
  7. Miro23 says:

    It’s an interesting question. Some years ago The Economist did a “European Honest Test ” leaving a wallet with a fair amount of cash in it (but also including clear contact details of the owner), in capital cities around Europe.

    The test was to see how many wallets were returned – and they found that the Scandinavians returned almost all of them, and the Italians returned almost none – with a clear North/South gradient in the results.

    By coincidence, at about the same time, I found a wallet beside some rubbish bins with € 400 in it and some credit cards (one from my own bank). So on my next visit, I told them about it and soon got a call from the owner ( a Spanish carpenter working in Germany). His reaction was 1) to check that the money was still in the wallet 2) say that not many people would return a wallet with € 400 in it 3) leave 2 bottles of wine at my front gate.

    I checked this reaction with my secretary at the time, and asked her what she would have done, with the answer that it would be a “Regalo de Dios” (Gift of God), i.e. it was not going to be returned to the owner, so there seems to be some anecdotal evidence for the result.

  8. China’s position on the Intrinsic Honesty chart is puzzling both at the macro level (remarkably honest, competent policy-makers) and at the individual level (above average IQ).

    The Edelman Corporation, which has a lock on international surveys of personal and institutional honesty has consistently found the Chinese to be among the most trusting people on earth, as have World Values Surveys in their own, independent polls of the Chinese.

    The source of the discrepancy appears to be the source of the data: “an indicator of political rights by Freedom House that measures the democratic quality of a country’s political practices; the size of a country’s shadow economy as a proxy for tax evasion; and corruption as measured by the World Bank’s Control of Corruption Index (Supplementary Methods)”.

    Relying on George Soros’ Freedom House for information about China is akin to relying on the neighborhood fox to keep an eye on your chickens while you go on vacation. Garbage in, garbage out…

  9. Anonymous[388] • Disclaimer says:

    I would rate Japan pretty high for getting things returned, but this ethic has eroded over the past three or four decades.

    Also, in the past you’d see adult males scolding unrelated misbehaving teens in public, who’d slink away with their tails between their legs. This you do not currently see: men are less masculine and assertive and some teens at least are more beligerant.

  10. I think, David Perkins’ findings about high IQ-people being also very tribal would make for a nice addendum here, to better understand how IQ and honesty are related.

    I refer to Jonathan Haidt’s argument, that he bases explicitly on Perkins’ findings, that because of the tendency of high IQ-people to be even more tribal than the lower IQ ranks, ist is so crucial, to understand with J. S. Mill’s On Liberty (and I add: with Kant and – – the Kantian Habermas’ “Theory of Communicative Action”), that the core achievement of modernity is the institutionalization of disconformation in the democratic/liberal rational discourse and liberal public sphere (universities, the media, etc.).

    Here’s Jonathan Haidt, referring to Perkins and Mill to make clear, how important the institutionalization of disconformation actually is:

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
  11. Correlation≠causation. Maybe honesty leads to brighter minds. Is it your knowing the right answer that makes you follow it, or is it you looking at the situation, as it is, considering evidence and proof, and getting the right answer through correct deductive reasoning, which is then to be followed? You can’t be honest and act ideologically, because by definition you follow your observations of the world, not your ideas of the world. An honest person is bound to direct observation, an intelligent person is not. Honesty is probably primary to an accurate understanding of the world.

    • Replies: @animalogic
  12. @James Thompson

    I think that 16 per cent is a bit arbitrary. In a class or caste dominated society you might, if of a class which can choose to avoid countries, decide that it really doesn’t matter if your butler and housekeeper have to terrify the lower orders to stop them ripping you off (and the butler and housekeeper have enough relations they want to place in employment to keep them to the rules as to how much they cheat you).

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  13. @Miro23

    I recently lost my wallet for a short time in a supermarket-plus-other-shops complex as I wheeled my trolley to the car park. I thought my pocket had been picked so went to a nearby poluce station to see if they could accelerate access to CCTV. Mr Plod was useless and unhelpful. (Fortunately I didn’t start cancelling credit cards immediately as he pretty well demanded). Back in the shopping centre I was directed to a caretaker’s office where a 30 ish man of Pakistani origin had my wallet that had fallen out of my pocket as I went up a ramp. He had taken the trouble to count the cash and wrap it separately with a note on it that the amount was $915 or whatever. I never bothered to count it myself or even unwrap it for several days. What does that say about the standard of civilisation in one of Australia’s biggest cities?

    • Replies: @Miro23
    , @animalogic
  14. As anyone who has seen how inadequate religion is today to form moral young people may have thought, the obvious starting point is to ask oneself how I bring up my children and what moral rules I rub in (preferably by example as well as preaching). One knows children are not going to be cunning ruthless sophisticates by nature – unless psychopaths – and will not benefit from being taught to think immediately how they can get away with some theft or lie. So you bring them up with rules which will help to make sure they are both trusted and trustworthy – seeing you return the small amount of change over paid for exsmple to rub in the message about rules they should still be obeying without thought when they have children. Morality is about the customs of the tribe, its mores, and children are rarely done any sort of favour by not being trained to be strictly moral (even if taught Christian forgiveness, especially for the “poor in spirit”). However…..

    It occurs to me that the place of intelligence in this may extend to what hss been called Divergent Thinking (does this overlap with Lateral Thinking? Or imagination?)
    A quick imaginative laterally thinking brain may think of several ways some dishonest subterfuge may go wrong almost st the moment temptation arises. So honesty for him he quickly concludes is the best policy. And so down the speculative path on which little evidence is to be found. After all what is one to make of the arrogant lawyer that one reads about in the big tax case who thought arrogantly he could get away with something and the Mr Plods of the tax office would never sus him out and prove his wrongdoing to a court?

  15. @Wizard of Oz

    I was guided by my recollection of the modelling of neighbourhood crime risk, but it is a sliding scale, I agree. I assumed, years ago, that at the 16-20% level one would begin to notice a difference from base rate. See, in this particular example, Fig 2 and Fig 3

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
    , @szopen
  16. Miro23 says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    What does that say about the standard of civilization in one of Australia’s biggest cities?

    It doesn’t really say anything. You need some standardized parameters and a reasonable sample size. Then you can draw some conclusions and assess the level of accuracy – like The Economist did with their wallet test – quite a good experiment.

    However , at the individual level, a continuing positive outcome would be the wallet owner saying thank you, and being more inclined to return the favor one day.

    • Replies: @Twodees Partain
  17. Yep. Fair enough. (All of it).

  18. @James Thompson

    It occurs to me that 5 per cent might be a horrible worrying prospect if you, as a lawyer or doctor, thought it applied to the five or ten thousand you might come across as fellow professionals in your city or state. But then it could be that you rarely gossip about others and only regard as liars and cheats those who have done it to you (apart from the few who have been busted for insurance fraud). Maybe 16 per cent sometimes fudge or fiddle something but you don’t know so you remain happily (and honestly) complacent, and proud of your profession.

  19. More intelligent people may be more adept at calculating the possible negative consequences of personal dishonesty and they are likely to have more to lose. However, put them in a corporate situation and no doubt they will be as gung-ho as anyone to figure out ways to rip off customers.

    • Replies: @animalogic
    , @Wally
  20. @Miro23

    I only look at the lost wallet in one light: it’s not my property.

    One of the factors I consider when looking at whether a person is a member of mankind or humankind – property.

  21. szopen says:

    I’ve lost a wallet once and then I was visited home by shop owner, who carefuly tracked where I could live by using data from the wallet. She wanted nothing in exchange.

    On university, I also was also given back a wallet once; I got back also a cellphone (which was quite expansive at the time) I left somewhere few years ago.

    OTOH once I left a wallet with cash at university and it was not returned.

    So, here you are my anecdotal evidence from Poland: three wallets and one cellphone, one time not returned, two plus one times returned.

    • Replies: @Wade
  22. szopen says:
    @James Thompson

    “my recollection”, ” _I_ assumed, years ago” ??? Does that mean La Griffe du Lion is you?!?

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  23. Svigor says:

    More intelligent people may be more adept at calculating the possible negative consequences of personal dishonesty and they are likely to have more to lose. However, put them in a corporate situation and no doubt they will be as gung-ho as anyone to figure out ways to rip off customers.

    The purpose of the institution in question is to “figure out ways to rip off customers.” It’s neither dishonesty nor cheating. The trick is not to have a culture that puts corporate/employer concerns first.

    Obviously smarter people are going to tend to be more moral; you need to know what the fuck morality and ethics even are, and assess the circumstances, before you can make your decisions. Retards can’t even get to the point of making a decision. Stupid people are great at missing the moral implications of their behavior. Smart people are the ones who need to come up with rationalizations.

  24. All “honesty” begins with the self. Lying to your self, about your self is the basis of delusion and
    in-authenticity. How can you know reality when reality is constantly reinterpreted to fit the needs of a run-away ego ?
    The general point, that intelligence is linked to long term thinking seems sound to me. Dishonestly is often about immediate gratification: a question of gaining or avoiding immediate pleasure/displeasure. Honesty is a strategy that “pays off” over the long term.
    Honesty, or truth telling (in so far as one can) is also a factor in an Honour culture. The liar is a “base” person, a person who has no sense (or no care about) their own social (self conscious) standing. Honesty also has a close correlation with such things as “loyalty”, “promising” etc.

  25. @Jonathan Mason

    Oh yes !
    That’s the joy of the corporate structure: no one is responsible. EVERYONE acts because they “owe” obligations to another. (Executives to higher executives; Higher executives to the Board; the Board to Shareholders) Personal, moral responsibility becomes entirely lost in this deliberately confected ethical melange. The Large organisation is the perfect environment for crafting crimes safe from individual consequence.

  26. @Wizard of Oz

    It says you are damn lucky. If I had $ 915 in my wallet I’d super-glue the damn thing to my chest. Rather lose a couple layers of skin than that kind of dosh.

  27. @Ilya G Poimandres

    Self honesty is a long tortuous process.
    Ideology is a relief: it removes the constant anxiety of needing to “question”.
    Science is — should be — the strictest form of public honesty.
    Its frightening how many reports we so often get now about the systemic “dishonesty” in the scientific realm. (Dishonesty driven usually (not exclusively) by the demands of corporate profits)

  28. m___ says:

    Sublime opportunism, entwined inside collective incentives, converges into supreme ethics, moral behaviour.
    Sadly, the convergence is beyond the gradients of our elites.
    The why of hard-wired human elites as are, cannot transcend to long term survival strategies, and society resembles a chicken coop.

    To add another factor randomly, embedded into the above, it does not matter, how intelligence plays out between individuals, because individual opportunity feeds back into a pool of extended family, group, tribe, waves of culture and ad-hocs, lastingly and durably not encased in cognitive ambition, itself a consequence of cognitive genetic effort. Colleges and universities worldwide are a better example of petty games.

    The “truth” and other concepts of “honesty” are a psychological, relative variant, depending on context. The agnostic concept of real and it’s pursuit is unknown to our archaic, analogue brain without the preposition of a limited context, opportune in the now.

  29. I would be interested in how honesty was explicated. And the valuation of cross cultural rules that note the value of said rule equally across cultures. Now perhaps, these are fully layed out in the study, but I was unable to access the sight provided.

    I would also be interested how the study rated honesty as a national value. Thus far the model looks to be applied by survey data. As I was reading I kept thinking of the multiple national scandals in which dishonesty played a central role. Once one figures out the definition and meaning of what constitutes honesty among individuals and or societal groups as agreed upon by those groups, then a model of measuring said honesty is built. This is essential because the article indicates that the difference in variable is largely cultural. So I have to conclude that a standard was established that recognizes what honesty is across cultures.

    Because even withing culture, honesty varies. If intelligence is the key demarcation than one would expect those groupings with supposedly higher intelligence to have a higher degree of honesty. But again, even withing culture an agreed upon understanding of honesty is required.
    Assuming intelligence matters to some set post of morality, in this case honesty — could the model replicate supposed intelligence to honesty withing a given system in which the rules are more readily identifiable and agreed upon. Assuming that the students at the US military academies rank higher in intelligence than say the students at any comparable sized university would the students among the military academies rank higher or lower as to the being or practicing honesty. Considering the value placed on meritocratic institutions such as Harvard when measuring that intelligence grouping demonstrate a higher degree of honesty than a comparable public university.

    Assuming we agree what the rules are,

    “The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others”

    it could be interesting whether said tested data is measuring awareness verses adherence.

    Here are a bare list of some developed nation’s honesty issues regarding rule adherence. (rare use of Wikipedia)

    Again assuming that the players agree on what the rules are across countries or cultures a comparison of honesty across varying fields as to scandals and or practices might tell us something regarding the impact of intelligence to honesty across said cultures.

    Found the article interesting and just expressed to thoughts on the read.

  30. Well, I’ll speak (honestly) from the other perspective.

    I used to ride my bike of a Sunday morning on a scenic route that boasted a few first class restaurants. Twice I found wallets lying on the pavement just downstream from these establishments. Apparently, the owners, a little tipsy, had set their wallets on top of their cars while they fumbled for their keys and then drove off.

    The first I took to the local police station. The second I took home and called the owner (who lived in Canada) using their credit card number to pay for the call and left a message reassuring her that her wallet (and money) was safe and sound, not to worry (because I knew she would, having lost it outside her home country). I didn’t want to take it to the police because I figured they’d begin to suspect me of stealing the wallets if I kept showing up with them.

    She and her husband drove down to a prearranged place to meet me for the return. She was very grateful.

    The owner of the first lost wallet called me and asked if they could donate $100 in my name to my favorite charity.

    Another time I found a perfectly nice fleece-lined, leather aviation jacket lying in the road just outside a golf course. Luckily there was a receipt from his fee for 18 holes in the pocket. I called him and arranged to return the coat. We met. He treated me as though I had stolen the jacket from his car. Not so much as a thank you.

    I don’t know if I’m inclined to honesty because I’m bright, it’s just that I’ve lost my wallet in the past and it’s such a pain in the butt that I feel sorry for anyone who shares that fate. Credit cards, ID etc. the money is the least of it.

    • Replies: @JackOH
    , @ANON
    , @ANON
  31. Mishra says:

    Honesty and trust are just two more archaic notions to be discarded along the way toward our new third-world future.

    • Replies: @Santoculto
  32. “Good institutions that limit cheating and rule violations, such as corruption, tax evasion and political fraud are crucial for prosperity and development.”

    I’d argue that these institutions derive from a well-functioning, high-trust society and are rarely a catalyst for more honesty in other societies.

    As for the connection to intelligence, look at India and China to test your hypothesis.

  33. JackOH says:

    “Another time I found a perfectly nice fleece-lined, leather aviation jacket lying in the road just outside a golf course. Luckily there was a receipt from his fee for 18 holes in the pocket. I called him and arranged to return the coat. We met. He treated me as though I had stolen the jacket from his car. Not so much as a thank you.”

    TC, yep. I found a wallet stuffed with cash and credit cards on the campus of our local state university. A campus policeman was nearby so I turned the wallet over to him. He cautioned me that people who recover lost or abandoned property are sometimes blamed by the owners of that property for any real or imagined loss, damage, or inconvenience to the owners.

    My rough rule of thumb is that if the property can be readily linked to an owner, I return it. If not, and the property has trivial value, say under USD $100, it’s a judgment call. Found a few bottles of liquor, seals unbroken, in a trash can. Kept them. Found an untagged but well-kept dog once, which I judged to have strong sentimental value to its owner, so I placed an ad in a local newspaper, got a response, and returned the dog. His children were very grateful.

    • Replies: @Cindy
  34. @Mishra

    Most of corruption in third world countries came back from the top of social hierarchy, i mean, higher IQ.

  35. says:

    The Gachter experiment on rule violation is based on die throwing in sterile experimental conditions where the financial incentives are trivial and more seriously there are no competition between the participants and there are no mechanism to identify specific individual cheating and no resulting blemish to ones’ reputation. So how much of that are relevant to real life situations?

    Real life cheating data where there are great advantage to be gained and also with consequences that might affect ones future are more appropriate to be studied. One aspect of the OECD TALIS project dealt with real life cheating in 8645 schools and over 100K? teachers globally,

    “TALIS 2013 Results: An International Perspective on Teaching and Learning – © OECD 2014”

    Table 2.20.Web. School climate – Frequency of student-related factors (cheating)
    Percentage of lower secondary education teachers whose school principal reports that the following student behaviours occurred 1 Never, 2 Rarely, 3 Monthly, 4 Weekly, 5 Daily in their schools.

    Answers 3, 4 and 5 are considered to be serious indicator of cheating in schools. With the intention to mash the TALIS data with the PISA 2012 data, the primary school data were excluded.

    Many popular pre-conceived ideas about cheating in schools were not proven by the data. In fact considerable efforts were needed to find any significant statistical trend. For example at the national levels cheating were not correlated to the average PISA scores, fraction of top or bottom PISA scores, teachers’ practice of spliting the class to teach and to test part of the class differently, etc.

    The factor that show statistical significance is the proxy factor for competition or meritocracy. Countries have adopted various shades of “no child left behind” policy and that is reflected in the age profile of the class. In country that practice strict “no child left behind”, the students are automatically promoted to the next grade in the next academic year regardless of the ability of the students with the results that the student will be exclusive of the same ‘academic age’. When meritocracy is practiced, poorly performing students might have to repeat the same grade one or more times resulting in ‘academic age’ distribution in class. Since the PISA project has data of percentage of 15 yo for that grade, the idea can be tested. To be polite, the marked datapoints are not labelled. Two countries separated by a narrow channel can have drastically different cheating levels.

    Q32CheatRpt = -0.404*PctGrade +56.76; #n=32; Rsq=0.1891; p=0.01287 *

    The school cheating levels is statistically significant to be linearly dependent on the percent of the 15 yo in class. The levels of cheating is dependent on the level of meritocracy practiced. With automatic promotion to the next academic grade there is little need for the students to cheat. The governments are doing the cheating instead. The out-criers of cheating in other countries do not realized that they are in countries with lesser meritocracy.

    • Replies: @James Thompson
  36. Peter Frost says: • Website

    The paper argues that there is a causal link between intellectual development and moral awareness: the individual process of development represents an advance from cognitive egocentrism to de-centered thinking, from ethical egocentrism to the consideration of the interests and rights of others.

    This is what Jean Piaget concluded … from his studies of Swiss children. He believed that empathy was an integral part of a child’s intellectual development. It doesn’t follow, however, that there is some kind of genetic linkage between intellectual capacity and the capacity for empathy. These are two different mental traits. It’s more likely that the same selection pressure that favored an increase in intellectual capacity also favored an increase in the capacity for empathy.

    It’s impossible to build an advanced society unless most of its members have a high capacity for both intelligence and empathy. On an individual level, however, high intelligence can co-exist with low empathy. There have been many cases of ruthless sociopaths who are very intelligent and yet totally self-centered. Such people can be very successful as long as they aren’t too numerous. Otherwise, they’ll destroy the very society that makes their existence possible.

    An advanced society requires a combination of high intelligence and high empathy, although this may come about in different ways. In northwest Europeans, a high intellectual capacity co-exists with high capacities for guilt proneness and affective empathy. In East Asians, a high intellectual capacity co-exists with high capacities for cognitive empathy and pro-social behavior. In other words, there is more emphasis in East Asian societies on learning correct moral rules.

    • Replies: @J.Ross
  37. J.Ross says: • Website
    @Peter Frost

    I am not following the credit gift of empathy to East Asians, or the connection of morality and intelligence to the obeying of complex rules, because of the stolen oranges in the Book of Rites and the counterfeit antiques that impressed the Emperor. The Chinese literally explain how to lie in their moral teachings. “Lying” is right there among the morality-guaranteeing complex rules. There are examples in the Talmud I will not specify, or regard as unreasonable, but I will note that nobody saw the Talmud as less than a downright complex system of rules. Some African tribes have rules so stringent (eg, no wet dreams) that nobody could possibly obey them. If anything I would expect that systems of compelled obedience to complex rules guarantee dishonesty. The only alternative is Billy Budd getting the captain to take his side.
    What I would start with is power. In China, even in periods of decay or civil war, power is always centralized to a degree only approached in Europe by a few temporarily competent monarchs, and with an effectiveness that has never been accomplished in Europe. I think this and not math scores or cheap shoes is the basis of the elite adoration of the Han. The man who observes that a cow is not a nightingale, or that two and two are four, when the opposite is being claimed by an officer of the government (be it communist, imperial, or partisan) is an idiot. He, and probably his family, maybe his hamlet, will be exterminated with efficiency the European Enlightened Despots could only dream of. Truth, insofar as it is objective, is the hair of Liberty. It cannot exist at all except in the empty space left by the rolling back of power. The trick here is embracing negativism instead of falling into the positivistic trap. We in the West accidentally stumbled across Liberty and Truth and Science, not because we are good, objectively not because we are smarter, but because we just couldn’t get that mandate of heaven thing together, despite the unambiguous desires of numerous monarchs. I predict that this will be an unpopular answer but it will not go away.
    (but the Japanese are massively more ethical than the Chinese. Yeah. And they are also all but European, especially in a lot of their political history. They dreamed of imitating Chinese centralization but never came close.)
    Also, how soon can we expect an update to that graph, now plotting IQ (or PISA, or tetris scores, etc) against something like the Transparency Index? Apologies if this has already been done and I missed it.


    thanks for this interesting additional measure of cheating.

  39. Personally, I have a hard time understanding scams. I would make a terrible white collar criminal.

  40. Biff says:

    Those studies are bunk because everybody lies:

    What can we learn about ourselves from the things we ask online? US data scientist Seth Stephens‑Davidowitz analysed anonymous Google search results, uncovering disturbing truths about our desires, beliefs and prejudices

  41. Tbbh says:

    I almost thought I had found a thread on unz where somebody didn’t mention joos. Thanks for not disappointing me.

    • Replies: @anonymous
  42. Have no idea where the data come from, but scandals with Dutch politicians seem to increase all the time, most with Rutte’s VVD.

    Condemned politicians for fraud etc., a novelty.
    But until now just one behind bars.

    But about honesty, our prime minister Rutte is nicknamed Pinocchio for his lies.
    The VVD quickly rid itself of the chairman Keiser, who manipulated himself into possession of the crematoria of the organisation he advised.
    The Dutch tax authority presented him with a claim of € 12 million, our FIOD, the authority for fiscal crimes is investigating him.

    Condemned business men for fraud, more than we like.
    Even the former Philips CEO Boonstra was condemned for trade with foreknowledge.
    Solicitors also are not above suspicion any more.

    At the recent municipality elections measures were applied to prevent criminals being elected.

    Unreliable policemen, also a novelty, the first serious conviction was a short time ago, he sold information from police data bases to criminals.
    How he was not discovered earlier, unbelievable, police salaries are insufficient for driving Porsches.

  43. Your last paragraph is ill timed and at best insensitive in the opinion of this Australian who once got some pleasure from the game of cricket 🙂

  44. anarchyst says:

    Catholic bishop Fulton J. Sheen said it best: “It is much easier for an educated person to rationalize evil”.
    All one has to do is look at abortion supporters who insist that abortion merely removes “a clump of cells”, when they damn well know better, that it is HUMAN LIFE that they are destroying.
    The old “ends justifies the means” excuse also comes into play, which is used by communist societies to purge millions of those who oppose them, not unlike the purges in the old Soviet Union, China, Cuba, and other communist “paradises”.
    I would state that it is easier for an educated person to rationalize evil–this including dishonesty…

    • Replies: @Anon
  45. ANON[436] • Disclaimer says:

    Do I detect a matter of class? The golfer seems not to have been a gentleman belonging to a golf club where proper behaviour was de rigeur, very likely passed from father, uncle and club pro to son. The sort of chap who pays green fees could be a wannabe upwardly mobile agent for subdivided swamp land 🙂

  46. ANON[436] • Disclaimer says:

    PS I gave up golf after my father died 20+ years ago. Not so much that I couldn’t match his ethical standards but that after two heart attacks and hip replacements he was still a scratch golfer and all I could do was occasionally outdrive him if my slice or pull allowed.

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  47. TG says:

    Interesting post. Some additional thoughts.

    1. Perhaps smart people are just better at not getting caught?

    2. Overall, there is one major factor in the honesty of a society, and that is poverty. When an overpopulated third-world society is crushed into misery, when people cannot earn a half-way decent living – or indeed, any living – through honest effort, eventually they come to cheat. This has been demonstrated in all cultures and all races.

    Does integrity promote prosperity? Surely. But the reverse is if anything more powerful: poverty promotes corruption and nepotism. For people to behave honorably, yes there must be a culture of this, but it must also be the case that behaving honorably is not cutting your own throat. Because few people are saints.

  48. Cindy says:

    “Found a few bottles of liquor, seals unbroken, in a trash can. ”

    Dumpster-diving is a different thing than keeping lost goods. I think you’re *morally* in the clear, there, even if sorely lacking in judgement. This doesn’t seem very wise. Did it not occur to you that they were probably in the TRASH for a reason? Probably not poisonous or anything, since the seals were on. Probably some alcoholic decided to quit drinking. But do you want to take the chance that this wasn’t a bootleg batch full of lead? Obviously the answer was yes. Your butt, I reckon 😉

    • Replies: @JackOH
  49. Anonymous[739] • Disclaimer says:

    We have been flooded here at the University of Chicago by Mainland/Communist Chinese students. There are lots of accusations that the Chinese Communist government assists these students by cheating, getting other English language proficient students to take the English part of the SAT tests.

    There appear to be lots and lots of Mainland Chinese/Communist China students here who supposedly aced the English SAT test but can’t seem to speak English.

  50. @Miro23

    “like The Economist did with their wallet test – quite a good experiment.”

    But, The Economist is hardly a bastion of truth. I would tend to dismiss their entire story of the wallet experiment as a fabrication, having caught their writers in so many lies.

  51. Willem says:

    I interpreted the Simon Gächter graph as follows: the more money a country has, the more honest the citizens are.

    Perhaps one should do an experiment and make countries like Tanzania as rich as e.g. The Netherlands, and then do the comparisons.

    Same applies to IQ.

    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
  52. Do Brighter Minds Incline to Honesty?


    But certainly that accounts for the fact that politicians are dull, ignorant, dissemblers at best.

    In many governments the candidates for the highest stations are above the law; and, if they can attain the object of their ambition, they have no fear of being called to account for the means by which they acquired it. They often endeavour, therefore, not only by fraud and falsehood, the ordinary and vulgar arts of intrigue and cabal; but sometimes by the perpetration of the most enormous crimes, by murder and assassination, by rebellion and civil war, to supplant and destroy those who oppose or stand in the way of their greatness.

    Adam Smith, Essays Pt I, Sec III, Chap III. ed. Joseph Black and James Hutton (London: Alex. Murray & Son, 1869). 3/30/2018.

    • Replies: @Twodees Partain
  53. denk says:

    Uk, the perpetrator of Iraq WMD and the current Russiagate, a more ‘ethical’ country than China ?

    What a joke !

    • Agree: jacques sheete
  54. @Willem

    Honesty to me seems a cultural phenomenon.
    Once people get away with dishonesty, others think ‘why not me ?’.

    The Dutch erosion, in my recollection, already began in the seventies, with leftist people, at the time social democrats.
    It was said then ‘thinking left, filling pockets at the right’.
    People as my father, life long socialists, left the party in great numbers.
    It took a long time for THE socialist party, PvdA, to disappear, until the last parliamentary elections.
    The self destruction had much to do with EU support, socialism is at odds with globalisation, even within the EU.

    Few in the USA will have followed all the French scandals before the last presidential elections.
    Even Macron was accused of not declaring all his possessions.
    And indeed, I also cannot understand how he spent or lost the millions he got while working for the Rothschild bank.

    Another well known politician, presidential candidate, cannot now remember the name, disappeared after gifts for suits for some € 50.000 were published, there was also a very expensive watch, the job his wife had, what she in fact did, nobody understands, and the temporary jobs for his children.
    When one sees the small castle where the family lives one understands that he could not buy his suits himself.

    Now at last there seems to be sufficient proof against Sarkozy.

    Now many French presidents were persecuted after their immunity ended, when they no longer were president.
    But the frauds etc. they seem to have perpetrated seem worse and worse, in the Sarko case, intimidating a judge, among other things.
    When Hollande will be persecuted, I wonder.
    He had a reputation for sacking editors in chief.

  55. @denk

    Ask Ghandi, alas he does not live, when Britain was an ethical country.
    Just a few years ago, in BBCW Hard Talk, I saw an Indian minister getting quite angry ‘the British did not have to teach the Indians anything’.

    • Replies: @denk
    , @jacques sheete
  56. JackOH says:

    Cindy, both gut and butt survived my “rescue” hooch. I did some due diligence: examined the bottles, carefully tasted the contents, etc. My guess was a domestic quarrel in the parking garage over the high-end vodka and liqueurs, perhaps over someone’s drinking problem, and the quarrel was settled by chucking the booze.

    ” . . . [S]orely lacking in judgment.” Not really. My judgment turned out to be okay, because I was informed by the totality of the circumstances and then made my call. Had the booze been low-end stuff found in an unfamiliar location, etc., I might have judged differently.

    BTW-I didn’t dumpster-dive. The booze was clearly visible at the top of the trash can.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  57. denk says:
    @jilles dykstra

    How did they measure such ‘honesty index’ ?
    Placing 100 wallets in a park and observe how many are returned to the owners ?

    But when the anglos lie, they always lie big time !

    Goebel famously oberved….

    The English follow the principle that when one lies, it should be a big lie, and one should stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous

    Waging wars by false pretexts surely is the highest form of duplicity ?
    They dont call them perfidious albions for nuthin you know !

    • Agree: jacques sheete
  58. How does the author explain the link between the supposed highest IQ group – the Jews, and their reputation for utmost dishonesty, greed and lust throughout history? Same goes for the Chinese.

    Propensity for Honesty is the biggest reason why we need to restrict immigration from low trust cultures, i.e. all 3rd world countries. It’s why they’re 3rd world, because they are low trust, everyone is dishonest from the top down, the few honest ones are called “stupid” and get ripped off left and right. The more we import from these cultures, the more dishonest our society will become, this includes all of Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Africa, Southern & Eastern Europe esp. Russia. The only truly honest people in the world are Northwestern Protestant Europeans, and maybe the Japanese. All other groups are dishonest.

  59. Joe Wong says:

    Interesting work? This article is a pure misuse of statistics, a fabrication and a classic work of evil minded Eurocentrist attempting to give a new lease of life to their declining rotten Eurocentrism in facing of the rising progressive, peaceful, and pragmatic East.

    Look at the graph, its racist Eurocentrism is glaring, all the Western nations are on the good side while rest of the world on the bad side. History has shown all those on the good side are liars, cheaters, murderers, bandits, and pirates, while those on the bad side are the victims of those perpetrators on the good side. The missing of the USA in the chart makes this article an unapologetic white supremacy lie.

    To study the link between brightness and honesty, it should pull data from the same pool of population who are in the same environment, i.e. within a nation, then we even can study whether cognitive ability, intellectual development, moral awareness, culture factor, and institutions have any effect on honesty and their relationships.

    Besides in spite of being bright, and having cognitive ability, intellectual development, moral awareness, culture factor and strong institutions, the West still bombs, kills and waterboards others on the fabricated phantom allegations as humanitarian intervention without showing remorse; and recently the West lied about the poisoning episode in UK, and brought the world to the edge of anther world war crisis, those evidences prove the Western societies are not honest despite the qualities they processed as prerequisite for honesty, it seems it proves the West is either hypocritical or innate psychopathic.

    • LOL: res, Clyde
    • Replies: @jilles dykstra
  60. @jilles dykstra

    Ask Ghandi, alas he does not live, when Britain was an ethical country.

    Exactly. What a pack of criminals. They were much worse and for a longer period of time, than what they accused the Nazis of doing.

    Churchill refused to divert supplies away from already well-supplied British troops… at the same time he allegedly blocked American and Canadian ships from delivering aid to India either. Nor would he allow the Indians to help themselves: the colonial government forbade the country from using its own ships or currency reserves to help the starving masses. Meanwhile, London pushed up the price of grain with hugely inflated purchases, making it unaffordable for the dying and destitute. Most-chillingly of all, when the government of Delhi telegrammed to tell him people were dying, Churchill allegedly only replied to ask why Gandhi hadn’t died yet.

    If all this is true—and documents support it—then Winston Churchill…may well have starved to death as many innocent people as Stalin did in the Ukrainian genocide. Could the man who held out against Hitler really be capable of such an atrocity? Judging by the rest of this list, it wouldn’t be surprising.

  61. The honest and bright Brits are responsible for starvation in prison camps decades before the Nazis were supposed to have done their thing.:

    Picture of Brit camp victim (Boer War) according to the article linked above.:

    • Replies: @Philip Owen
  62. lavoisier says: • Website

    I cannot play golf without committing a certain amount of larceny. In my mind a mulligan is a reasonable option to excuse a particularly poorly played shot. And I have been known to sweeten my lie on the not rare occasion, which, of course, is a form of lying.

    I have often wondered if my ease at dishonesty on the links might suggest a propensity towards darker deeds?

    And don’t even ask me about gimme putts. That for sure must reflect a lower intelligence!

  63. Joe Wong says:
    @James Thompson

    Who decides who cheats or being dishonesty? Is misleading advertising cheating? Is empty campaign promises cheating? Is abusing legal loopholes cheating? Is putting one’s self-interest ahead of the ones they supposed to serve cheating? Is price fixing cheating? Are cartels of all kind cheating? Are selective reporting, wrongful labelling, and spreading ideology cheating? . . .

    Mind you, the people involved in the above activities are all bright, well educated, intelligent, having strong institutions, within well-functioning societies, and a sense of moral responsibilities too, would they be more than 16% in the western societes?

  64. The assumptions behind this are so fragile and unsupportable.

    Honesty, as with most of the Judeo-Christian values, largely serves to keep the compliant majority self-correcting while the predatory and parasitic top and bottom of society maintain a more productive relativistic approach – long term dishonesty for the elites, short term dishonesty for the undesirables. In-group honesty is always far more valued than universal honesty – whether you’re talking about stockbrokers or Romani.

    The most intelligent in any class or group are far more likely to utilize dishonesty when it best serves their needs. To do otherwise would be a clear sign of lack of intelligence.

    The idea that intelligent people are more likely to see the purpose of honesty in the long term is not only an unsupportable assumption, it’s also ignoring the countless undeniable historical instances of intelligent leaders deploying adaptive fictions to achieve positive social goals (anything from religion to the concept of inalienable rights).

    Anyone who uses the phrase “speaking truth to power” can absolutely be counted upon to be utterly dishonest when that power comes knocking.

  65. Art says:

    As a boy I had the privilege to attend a Catholic grade school. Part of the education was to go to confession. Admitting to a third party your wrongs, is very powerful. Forgiving the past frees one. Being truthful builds character, and getting over the past is a blessing. It was a struggle to be totally truthful all the time. As a mid to late teen, I fell away from Catholicism.

    In my early twenties I came back to believing that truthfulness is the best policy. I attribute that to the Catholic culture and the confessional. I would not say that it was my intelligence that led me.

    Think Peace — Art

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  66. Joe Wong says:

    Confession has nothing to do with honesty; it breeds psychopath, unrepentance, irresponsibility and repeat offending. The churches use confession to cleanse perpetrators’ sins, so the perpetrators can repeat their crimes without moral burden; this is not hypothesis, history bear witness of such fact. This is the trait of the Western culture, it reflects in all aspects of the westerners’ behaviour. Most common expression of such morally defunct mentality is that the western governments and officials have no trouble to apologize the wrongs they have done, but they keep on doing the same wrong over and over again after apologizing. The Native Americans are the most abused victim of such morally defunct practice.

    The churches use confession to recruit and dominate its members (mentally colonized serfs), expand their domains. Confession is one of the most effective mechanisms that corrupt the basic decency of humanity.

    • Disagree: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @utu
    , @jacques sheete
  67. denk says:
    @jacques sheete

    Here’s another ROFLLMAO,

    China much more aggressive than UK ,
    WTF !

    How did they deduce that ,
    Comparing how many people jump queue in UK and China ?

    Lies, damn lies and statistics

    Coming from those who hog the top 100 hoax of the century chart.


    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  68. utu says:
    @Joe Wong

    Perhaps going to confession or a dose of Christianity would be good for Chinese.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    , @denk
  69. @jacques sheete

    Adam Smith apparently had their number when he was alive. It seems that little has changed in the quality of politicians between the 19th and 21st centuries. If anything, today’s politicians are even more dimwitted and venal. The average Congress member is a moron, and nearly inarticulate in unscripted speaking.

    I really enjoyed reading Henry Mencken’s observations on political campaigns of the early 20th century. He also seemed to enjoy making those observations as well. It comes through in the way he describes the candidates.

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  70. @denk

    The government of the UK seems completely unconcerned with ethics, in the same way the US government is. Most members of both governments seem, to me, to be morally retarded.

    • Replies: @denk
  71. Malcolm Y says:

    Since this is statistics there are no counterexamples. But there is one giant “counterexample”

  72. denk says:
    @Twodees Partain

    which begs the question….

    How did these two ‘ethical’ countries keep churning out world class psychopaths as leaders….since 1600 ?

    • Replies: @jacques sheete
  73. says:

    Flash! Flash! Flash! Stop the press. This is not yet 1st April.

    Currently there are a lot of news about cheating in sports, e.g. cricket. Out of a whim the relationship of sports with academic cheating is tested. The OECD PISA project has data on the percentage of students who exercise before or after school PctExercise, and

    PctCheatRpt=+1.044*PctExercise-46.25; #n=29; Rsq=0.234; p=0.007889 ** (V Sig)

    It is very statistically significant that PctExercise is positively highly correlated to academic cheating. The effect is more than double that for the other percentage variables whether they are statistically significant or not. If students spend too much time on tracks and fields and little time at home studying the results can easily be inferred. Now you know those loud mouths screaming about cheating in another countries and that the students there spend too much time studying, they are on average themselves doing most of the academic cheatings and they might be trying to divert attention away from them.

    To be fair, the situation for the nerds should also be checked. The OECD PISA has data on the percentage of students who have more than 4 hours per week of off-school maths tuition PctMathTuitGt4hr,

    PctCheatRpt=-0.835*PctMathTuitGt4hr+31.81; #n=28; Rsq=0.0552; p=0.2287 (NotSig)

    It is statisticaly not significant. What about those academically very competitive, the percentage who wanted to be the best PctWantBest,

    PctCheatRpt=-0.445*PctWantBest+54.07; #n=29; Rsq=0.222; p=0.009944 ** (V Sig)

    It is statistically very significant that PctWantBest negatively correlated with cheating, i.e, on average the more academically competitive they are the lesser they will cheat.

    It is intuitively that most self-confident students will not cheat. The OECD data can be transformed and normalized into confident quotient CQ similar to the IQ scale where CQ ≥ 115 is considered to be over-confident. However,

    PctCheatRpt = -0.362*ConfidantQuotient +61.62; #n=29; Rsq=0.1289; p=0.05581 (NotSig)

    Two datapoints are far from the rest and are on opposite sides of the regression line, by excluding them,

    PctCheatRpt = -0.473*ConfidentQuotient2 +73.25; #n=27; Rsq=0.1653; p=0.03535 * (SIg)

    CQ is negatively correlated to cheating rate as expected.

    The summary of the results,

  74. @Joe Wong

    Most common expression of such morally defunct mentality is that the western governments and officials have no trouble to apologize the wrongs they have done, but they keep on doing the same wrong over and over again after apologizing.


    What’s even worse is the goofy idea that one is automatically “forgiven” if s/he’s a “believer.” It’s the works vs faith idea. Some of those people feel free to break every rule in the book (even the 10 supposedly written in stone) with complete impunity.

    Those people routinely engage in behavior that’s as disgusting as those from the the tribe who think they’re “chosen.”

    G-wd’s special ones, goy and non-goy, are forgiven in advance I guess.

  75. @Twodees Partain

    If anything, today’s politicians are even more dimwitted and venal. The average Congress member is a moron, and nearly inarticulate in unscripted speaking.


    I think much the same could be said for all hierarchical systems and that includes religious as well as academic ones. I’ve always been as much amused as amazed at how dimwitted and venal priests and professors usually are.


  76. @Joe Wong

    Rereading this reaction comes to mind
    Edward W. Said & Christopher Hitchens, ed., Blaming the Victims, Spurious scholarship and the Palestinian question’, 1988, London

  77. Anonymous[184] • Disclaimer says:

    “[S]orely lacking in judgment.” Not really. My judgment turned out to be okay”

    No, it was a bad call regardless of how it turned out. The risk-reward ratio was off the chart.

    • Replies: @JackOH
  78. @denk

    which begs the question….

    How did these two ‘ethical’ countries keep churning out world class psychopaths as leaders….since 1600 ?

    Beg no longer, fine sir! This dude may have an answer.

    Henceforth, Britain will do the bidding of her real masters ; she has
    become the tool of the schemers against all she holds dear, namely, her
    faith, her patriotism, traditions, civilisation. She grants the “ returned ”
    aliens equality of civil rights ; they may and do become mayors over
    Christian population, and within a short time Britain is ruled by a
    Jewish Prime Minister, Disraeli, first and foremost a Jew and the
    flunkey of the powerful Rothschild financiers.

    One of the consequences of this disastrous political mistake is the
    transformation of the national attitude of Great Britain and her
    colonies into that of the British Empire. Disraeli who inspired it
    knew what he was scheming for, the British people did not. But with
    him, Zionism is carried up to the very heights of the British Throne, a
    Zionist World Empire is on the high road to realisation.

    -Leslie Fry, “the Jews and the British Empire,” 1935

    He musta been a kunspirasee theerist er an antee-Semite er sumpin. Prolly lo IQ and jellis too. 😉

    • Replies: @denk
    , @Anonymous
  79. @Dieter Kief

    In the light of what Jonathan Haidt in the above linked video says with regards to David Perkin’s findings, I tend to say this question of yours

    Do Brighter Minds Incline to Honesty?

    has to be answered: “Yes. But.”

    The But has to do with the the history of the term “honesty”.

    People might say wrong things, while being (and feeling!) honest, because honesty is not necessarily rooted in speaking the truth.

    Honesty is a social category alltogether (with close ties to knighthood, chivalry and the like). It therefor is a category, which in it’s very core hints at obedience and fellowship, and that’s at times what keeps people away from speaking the truth – cf. David Perkins and Jonathan Haidt above (ok – full circle).

  80. Joe Wong says:

    Hit-and-run is common all over the world not just in China, it is a sign of moral decay, confusion, and irresponsibility. Those perpetrators must be denounced.

    But if one follows the West or the unrepentant war criminal Japanese, it is easy to white wash those hit-and-run crimes by saying the percentage of such crime in China is way lower than in the US though the absolute number might be higher, so Chinese is more honest than average in the world.

    On the other hand killing people with car faces less consequences in the West, most perpetrators in the West get slap on the wrist for such crime, such as suspension of driving license, insurance company paid compensation, short term imprisonment, or get way free by claiming medical conditions, but in China the perpetrators may have to pay their lives for their crimes. It seems the West does not have a balanced morality, harsh on the victims and lenient on the criminals.

    • Replies: @denk
    , @utu
  81. denk says:
    @jacques sheete

    In the honesty index graph,
    Germany is higher than China, OK, thats fair.

    As for the five eyes lies, their rightful place is right at the bottom.

    UK [half of fukus] the ethical country ?

    Web Of Deceit: Britain’s Real Foreign Policy
    by Mark Curtis

    In his explosive new book, Mark Curtis reveals a new picture of Britain’s role in the world since 1945 and in the ‘war against terrorism’ by offering a comprehensive critique of the Blair government’s foreign policy. Curtis argues that Britain is an ‘outlaw state’, often a violator of international law and ally of many repressive regimes. He reasons not only that Britain’s foreign policies are generally unethical but that they are also making the world more dangerous and unequal.

  82. denk says:


    You believe in gawd ?
    I pray to the all mighty every day to stop the great satan,
    a fat lot of good it does tho !

    so how ?

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  83. denk says:
    @Joe Wong

    that utu kid oughtta go out more .

    He spend all day in the basement and he thought he knows the world by watching some dubious youtube videos, forchrissake !


    • Replies: @utu
  84. Anonymous[184] • Disclaimer says:
    @jacques sheete

    Interesting. Reverse Midas Touch can be a very real phenomenon, apparently.

    So who chose them and what were they chosen for?

  85. Anon[436] • Disclaimer says:

    Why do you condemn over 100,000 years of homo sapiens behaviour. Destroying human lives has been continuously the most effective natural way to achieve important utilitarian ends tight up to today. And given the ancient Hebrew enthusiasm for genocide is it surprising that God’s Ten Commandments not only said nothing about abortion but assumed that limiting killing was about the best that could be hoped for.

  86. utu says:

    Quality is also an aspect of honesty: both individual and institutional.

  87. denk says:

    Did I mention the top 100 hoaxes of the century chart, kid ?

    Here’s a partial list,

    Iraq WMD
    IRAQ babies incubators
    Racak ‘massacre’
    Indo./China war 1962
    Indon genocide 1965
    GCHQ fake foto
    Tibet fake foto,
    Tibet genocide,
    Sinking of the Maine,
    Gulf of Tonkin,
    War OF terror,
    TAM ‘massacre’
    Tibet 2008
    Xinjiang 2009

    100 reasons why fukus should be at the bottom of the ‘honesty’ chart !

  88. utu says:
    @Joe Wong

    those hit-and-run crimes

    These are not just hit and run. In China you do not run until you make sure the victim is dead. And if the victim is not dead you hit them second time to make sure he/she is dead and then you run. This is very pragmatic and congruent with all Chinese philosophical systems. That’s why I suggested to your compatriot (denk) here that a bit of Christian mercy and compassion would do Chinese some good.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
    , @denk
  89. @jacques sheete

    As Amryata Sen has pointed out. The problem in Bengal was not a lack of food but the lack of purchasing power by the poorest peasants. Hoarding by merchants is a traditional driver of famine in India. The Punjab actually had a good harvest but Bengal ate rice. Churchill’s nvolvement was ncidental. India was governed com India, often by Indians. Churchill was an outrageous racist but by no means representative of the British of the time. He lost the post war election.

    • Agree: Wizard of Oz
  90. @jacques sheete

    WYes. Grotesque incompetence rather than the intended result but morally wrong just the same.

  91. @utu

    I am surprised that you posted that first link. Its 1500 tested people (selected how?) from 15 countries simply reminded me that the “Climategate” emails also belonged to the University of East Anglia.

    I didn’t take the time to understand WTF PUBG was all about (third link).

    As to the second link it is indeed interesting to learn of what appears to be a formal recognition by the Chinese Communist Party that part of what contributed to the earlier economic success of the West was trust and comparative honesty (as Amy Wax might point out).

  92. Joe Wong says:

    First of all Christians have no mercy, and they only have crusade and conversion. Christians are cult. The Christians have been committing crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes using evil and sadist inquisition methods for a very very long time. Their forte is racial and culture genocide. Before Columbus time they only did their carnage between themselves and Muslims within the European continent and ME. After Columbus they spread their plague all over the world.

    The most unfortunate victims are the Americans (from North to South). Christian not only took the American’s land, and killed them into nearly extinct, they also burnt all books of South Americans, so that there is no indigenous South American civilization left to tell their history and to refute what the Christian casted them as savages.

    In China during the late Qing time, the Christians treated Chinese culture and traditions as witchcraft, backed by their governments’ guns they used extraterritorial right to expand their control of people and land with organized violence and insidious crimes. Their unscrupulous activities forced Chinese to resist thru Boxer movement because Qing Court was incompetent. The West labelled Boxer as terrorists and crashed them with Eight Nations Alliance armed intervention, … Christian was a major force that caused China Century Humiliation.

    Since WWII all wars were led by the Christians, their false Christian mercy calls paved the way for the Western governments and war mongers to bomb, kill and waterboard on moral high ground just like their barbaric Christian forebears who have done to the native South Americans and rest of the world.

    That kind of morally defunct drivers are not unique to China, they appeare in the West too. In some incidences the driver in the West made sure nobody survives in the other car by pushing the car over the road side, so they have better chance not to be convicted due to no witness.

    While guys using assault rifles mowing down tens of school kids for no reasons and claim it is their constitution rights to do so, and tens of millions of killed, tortured and maimed by the NATO false flag wars, why don’t you suggest your compatriots in the USA and other NATO nations that a bit of Christian mercy and compassion would do their souls some good? Is it because Christian mercy is myth, fantasy and snakeoil?

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  93. Joe Wong says:

    You are being racist, propagating the pink skin pigs’ trashes in HK irresponsibly. You should know those noxious racist trolls in the SCMP are posted by the pink skin pigs and their mentally colonized wannabes in HK out of resentment and frustration, because they lost their colonial privileges in HK and they are being rejected as uneducated unscrupulous colonials back home. They fell from master caste to the bottom of the society and become worthless trash.

    Japanese are unrepentant war criminals, their whole society are liars and they have been lying since WWII about their war crimes, their past, their present and their future, they even are lying about the massive toxic nuclear leaking in the Fukushima cripple nuclear power plants that are causing millions of people died of cancer and extinction of marine creatures. While the British is the mentor of the Japanese.

    Britain was a ruthless global tyrant and liar, but you seem to believe that all the crimes against humanity and peace and war crimes British committed around the world can be forgiven and glossed over by claiming Britain a democracy; what a lie and morally defunct double think evil psychopathic expression. People said British imitates the Romans and the American is born out of the British, no wonder the American is adopting the same double think logic to white wash and gloss over the war crimes, crimes against humanity and peace they have been committing around the world.

    Winston Churchill was a classic imperialist with no moral bearing, he believed for the empire everything goes. WWII is nothing but a dog-eat-dog play rough over the monopoly to plunder the rest of the world; they squandered all the wealth they obtained thru stealing, looting and murdering hundreds of millions of people all over the world in that scrabbling.

    About cheating in the exams you must have never seen what the Greeks and Indian are capable of. PUBG is sour grape, they cannot beat the Chinese so they banned Chinese on the fabricated allegation, just like the Opium Wars, the British could not beat Chinese manufactured goods, so they used Opium and wars to steal and cheat Chinese wealth.

  94. lavoisier says: • Website

    Death should be knocking on Iran’s door and wearing a Star of David effacing the American flag.

  95. @denk

    Why do you waste time displaying your prejudices without even acknowledging what question was asked? Your English is up to it – just – so you have no excuse.

    • Replies: @denk
  96. lavoisier says: • Website
    @Joe Wong

    Your diatribe is a bit on the simplistic side.

    All Utu was pointing out is that deliberately killing someone with a car to escape prosecution is pretty heinous behavior and does suggest something really wrong with the Chinese culture at a fundamental level.

    And the treatment of animals in China is generally deplorable compared with Western standards with little concern for their well being. How does this obvious cruelty fit on the ethical plane?

    Ethical behavior among human beings is probably more unusual than we would like to believe and we can all be better people. The Chinese are no exception to that rule. If Christian ethics or Buddhist ethics can advance that cause, I support this.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  97. @jacques sheete

    I was intrigued to find on the site some readable and/or intriguing stuff, e.g. on Charles Darwin, but your particular, well debunked, choice of anachronistic and inaccurate story to believe and post suggests to me that anyone whose intellectual standards allow them to rely on one of those list (usually of 10) sites should not pollute UR. Are you aware that people are paid $100 (with possibility of bonuses) for those lists?

  98. Joe Wong says:

    You are wrong, not everybody demands the same quality, and Chinese provides different quality for different needs in the market. Besides you get what you paid for, it is fundamental principle of capitalism if you don’t count the first principle of capitalism which is monopoly which is charge as much as you can bear and cost is irrelevant, that is not only cheating and it is also blackmailing and looting.

    The video just claims but shows no proof what the guy claims. Chinese machinery and parts are taking more markets around the world, this simply fact proves the video is made out of bad faith, and pure propaganda.

    Coins can stand up on Chinese High Speed Rail running more than 300km/hr, no German, Japanese or any other nation can do that, it proves the bearing quality in China HSR is unprecedented, it further proves the guys in the video is a troll out of jealous, resentful and fear Chinese achievements.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  99. denk says:

    hey kiddie,

    Spare me all those China videos’ [1]

    In case you still havent noticed,
    Im not here to defend China.
    I allow its position below Germany is quite fair.

    Can you give me one good reason why UK , that agent provocateur extraordinaire, is so high up that honesty chart ?

  100. denk says:

    In China you do not run until you make sure the victim is dead.

    cuz you watch some videos from youtube,
    forchrissake !

    Can you give me some credible statistics , the percentage of such alleged crimes in China ?

    How does such alleged crimes stack up against fukus state terrorism like double tapping, sniping at women and chidlren, obliterating the whole neighborhood of a suspect hideout…just to make sure, ?

    How does this elevate fukus from its rightful position at the bottom of that honesty chart,
    thats all I wanna know ?

  101. denk says:
    @Wizard of Oz

    To think that I recently commended you for some improvement on your comprehension !
    , now you go back to my bozo file,

    • Replies: @Wizard of Oz
  102. Anonymous[216] • Disclaimer says:
    @Joe Wong

    It is propaganda. People tell me that the same stories were circulated when Japan was becoming a tech powerhouse. It will probably take another 5-10 years before it dissipates.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  103. @denk

    Don’t avoid the issue. How do you justify your use of the word “aggressive”?

  104. Joe Wong says:

    I merely point out the misconception about Christians supported by historical facts. Indian treats animals even worse while China has humane protection laws, it seems you are as impartial as utu.

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  105. Joe Wong says:

    Chinese is not Japanese. Japanese only steals, their forte is made refinement on the stolen.

    A lot of the American and British have been saying China will collapse 30 years already, you are one of them.

    • Replies: @utu
  106. Your first paragraph comes over as so silly that perhaps it shouldn’t surprise that your second paragraph is, to say the least, extremely puzzling. Where did Anonymous [216] say or suggest that China eould collapse? The post you are replying to implies no such thing.

  107. utu says:
    @Joe Wong

    After every of your visit by you at I keep wondering to what degree your primitive chauvinism is representative of China. How many millions primitive and hateful Joe Wongs are there? Then I wonder that perhaps you are not Chinese. That you are employed by enemies of China. That Chinese are too smart to show their cards that early in the game. If they really hate they would not show it because only fools show hate.

    You, see I carry a positive stereotype of Chinese which is supported by my personal experience with them but you and your sidekick deng do everything possible to undermine it and change it into: Yes, Chinese can be really stupid and thus more dangerous than we thought. Watch, out for stupid and dangerous Chinese. Go to the Plan B: Poke NK and the Rocket Man more to the point that Japan get so paranoid that it starts arming itself with nukes. If there is to be a war let it start with the yellow races killing each other. They hate each other anyway. Ask Joe Wong if you have any doubts.

    So what is it? Are you Chinese or an agent of revanchist militarist unreformed Chinese hating interests of Japanese imperialism? And then, if you are Chinese, how many more stupid ones like you are there?

    • Replies: @denk
    , @Joe Wong
    , @Daniel Chieh
  108. denk says:

    I carry a positive stereotype of Chinese which is supported by my personal experience

    sic !

    your sidekick deng

    Ad hominem is the last resort of the scoundrel.

    Why dont you try answering my questions kid ?

    *How do you propose to get rid of that plague of the 21C ?

    Why are you evading the issue but indulge in China bashing ?
    Are you a diversion agent ?

    *Do you agree that UK should be right at the bottom of that honesty chart ?

  109. lavoisier says: • Website
    @Joe Wong

    No. I am unimpressed with the morality of most humans and suspicious of attempts to paint ourselves as more virtuous than we are.

    But there are certainly aspects of Christian morality that can serve as a framework to guide human behavior–wherever one lives or whoever you are.

    Your diatribe blaming Christians for all the evil of the world is incredibly dishonest and naive.

    • Replies: @Joe Wong
  110. Anonymous[442] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    What is the difference in per capita income between southern europeans and scandinavians? I think this also plays a role.

  111. Joe Wong says:

    It seems your only defense for the Christians is denying historical facts, and stating something that Christians are not.

    Naïve? Are you saying the crimes against humanity, crimes against peace and war crimes committed by the Christians were carefully planned, deeply thought through, determined and maturely decided like holocaust?

    Bible is zero-sum based narrative, the fundamental dogma of Christianity is “you are either with us or you are with the devil” therefore all Christians have a mission to convert everyone else into “one of us” on the moral high ground with whatever means necessary, Christians believe whatever the Christians do it is necessary with good intention, even bombing, killing and waterboarding on the fabricated allegations is humanitarian intervention.

    Christianity assumes humans are primitive and born evil, they need divine force to threaten (go to hell) them not to do harm, and it is tribal. While some other civilizations believe humans are sane, rational, intelligent and compassionate, humans do not need divine force to tell them how to behave properly in order to achieve peace, harmony, cooperation, development and mutual benefits, just logical explanation and some directions will be suffice.

    If the past can be any reference, the crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of Christianity, it is doubtful that Christians have any morality, mind you it does not mean the Bible does not have good points in it, there are other way better ways and means to serve as a framework to guide human behaviour for the good.

    • Replies: @lavoisier
  112. Joe Wong says:

    Chauvinism is someone claims what he is not and based that false claim to demonize others what they are not on the moral high ground, this is what the West has been doing since 1492.

    Stating facts does not involve emotion, so please refrain yourself from sensationalize any topic unnecessary that makes dialog on difficult issues impossible, Theresa May and Nikki Haley are not your role model to follow.

    For over seventy years the US has dominated Asia, ravaging the continent with two major wars in Korea and Indo-China with millions of casualties, and multiple counter-insurgency interventions in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Timor, Myanmar, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The strategic goal has been to expand its military and political power, exploit the economies and resources.

    Before WWII, the American is just one of the Western imperialists ravaged and wreaked havoc of Asia with barbaric wars, illicit drugs like Opium, slavery, stealing, robbing, looting, plundering, murdering, torturing, exploiting, polluting, culture genocide, ‘pious’ fanaticism, unmatchable greed and extreme brutality. In fact it is hard to tell the difference between the American and the unrepentant war criminal Japanese who is more lethal and barbaric to Asians until the Pearl Harbour incident.

  113. lavoisier says: • Website
    @Joe Wong

    If the past can be any reference, the crimes have been committed against humanity in the name of Christianity, it is doubtful that Christians have any morality

    Do you really believe this???? No morality in any Christians?

    You are even more locked into hate and racism than I thought possible.

    Have you attended any of the lectures by the anti-racist Tim Wise??

    You might get some talking points from him that can help you in your future postings.

    And keep up the good work, you have a bright future in any number of our MSM outlets.

  114. @utu

    And you have not even met the hardcore commies, who would like to explain that the only thing that Mao did wrong, terribly wrong was that he did not kill nearly enough people.

    And the answer to your question is that there are idiots in every country and race, though in China they are mostly excluded from political positions(because insanity is not welcome), so they troll online message boards within and without China.

    Like various other fanatics and crazies, they can be entertaining in the appropriate context. If you’ve been to Finland, he’s the equivalent of the old drunk men yelling propositions at girls in some train stations of the small towns. Entertaining in small doses.

    • Replies: @utu
  115. utu says:
    @Daniel Chieh

    Entertaining in small doses.

    I think I reached my limit dose of Joe Wong and deng already.

    • Replies: @denk
  116. denk says:

    So you couldnt even give one good reason why UK should be on top of that ‘honesty chart’ eh ?

    well I can give you 100 why UK should be right at the bottom,

    Perfidious albions
    exhibit one

    How to ethnic cleanse an entire island ?
    Declare the residents as tresspassers !

    ‘What the files also reveal is an imperious attitude of brutality. In August 1966, Sir Paul Gore-Booth, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign Office, wrote: “We must surely be very tough about this. The object of the exercise was to get some rocks that will remain ours.

    There will be no indigenous population except seagulls.” At the end of this is a handwritten note by DH Greenhill, later Baron Greenhill:

    “Along with the Birds go some Tarzans or Men Fridays …” Under the heading, “Maintaining the fiction”, another official urges his colleagues to reclassify the islanders as “a floating population” and to “make up the rules as we go along”.

    Perfidious albions at its best !


    I think I reached my limit dose of Joe Wong and deng already.

    Scurry away with tail between your legs and declare victory,

    that’d be
    perfidious albions exhibit 2


  117. Anonymous [AKA "Chris2345"] says:

    @joe Wong You are a foolish, ignorant person. At least in regard to Christianity. The perpetrators of the holocaust and genocide are Christians? You absolutely have no clue about Christianity. Yes, they came from a Christian based culture but Nazis (and American war criminals) have nothing in common with Christianity. The best countries in the world are ones based on Protestant Christianity, meaning Christianity that is the closest to the Biblical teachings. I admire Chinese culture and history (especially the technology which benefited the West) but you need the ability to admit the faults of your culture which has some serious problems.

  118. JackOH says:

    Thanks for the concern, but the risk of harm to me was near zero. Numeracy and all that.

  119. Vojkan says:

    Though I am convinced that honesty is more rational in the long term than lying, I definitely don’t believe that people with high IQ are more honest than those more modestly gifted with intellectual talent. Smart people just know better to juggle with fallacies so they are more likely to get away with it than dummies, that’s all.
    Logic does say that truth is lower maintenance, as it exists per se and is always consistent, and lies so they are not exposed need to be cared of constantly, as they are always intrinsically inconsistent with reality, but people are people, driven by the seven sins, of which greed and vanity are possibly the worst, with the former being more evenly distributed while the latter tends to affect the bright rather than the dim.
    Logic and ethics are different categories. Equating them is a sign of, well, vanity.

  120. TT says:

    Only a moron equate honesty = quality using ball bearing as example. There are countries may be very honest like Bhutan, yet they don’t produce high quality product.

    The US top elites are very intelligent, are producing lots of quality products like Boeing plane & precision weapons for murdering everywhere, yet their politicians & bankers are known habitual liars, with British & French close behind, and Germans reluctantly.

    Japanese is producing high quality products, look how frequently their politicians are caught outright lying, corrupted & nepotism, and researchers are now caught recently in their published papers using fake data, with big corporates like Toshiba, Nissan, Steel factories caught cheating systematically for long period.

    Its true Germany make top notch quality, undisputed, better than Japan imo.

    But look at the chart, beside Germany, who else is producing better ball bearings than China, or precision tools that run aerospace, manned space craft, rockets, 5th gen J20, satellites, nuclear plants(light water pebble), nuclear sub, FSR, a long list to go…yet they are rated more honest than China.

    Fyi, only 2 countries are able to produce precision steel ball bearings for tiny ball point pen tip, Germany & Japan. So China is importing billion of them for its ball point pen production annually.

    Why can’t China factory produce it? There was some uproar in China media over this last year. Guess what? Within a mth, some factory is churning out perfect ball bearings, but in better material – ceramic that is cheaper & longer lasting. And the producer explained, its not economical worth the effort & machining to produce those bearings as they cost only $200K p. a. to import. But for national pride, they do it.

    And i highly suspect you are either from HK or Taiwan with some bad memory of old China that you simply like to smear China without taking a fairer stand that, out of 1.4B Chinese how many % is doing those crimes, vs 400M murkans more serious crimes.

    The new generation Chinese should not be continuously viewed through old communist color lens & West propaganda, they are not responsible for the history but the future. Pres Xi is a good example, he is leading China to their peaceful rise now. He suffered in culture revolution, do you want to blame him for those history?

  121. TT says:

    This chart simply look so questionable. Why not include US, France, Oz, Canada, Bhutan, India, Brazil, Agentina, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, HK, Japan, Korea, HK, Taiwan,… to give a wider comparison. And how the author do his samplings to derive this graph is very much questionable.

    And to say brighter mind = honesty, just look at how honest are most world politicians that are generally top intellectuals of their cohort. I would say more wise = more honesty.

    To use wallets returning as a test of honesty is also overly simplified. When a country is poor, these are godsend present unless they are true perfect communist.

    As a country get wealthier, their people generally get better education & well off, become indoctrine with social norm of what is so called good behavior(persuaded by praise & blame). They are more inclined to return a wallet found with money that aren’t so attractive to them compare to poor. But that can never be equate to genuine honest, im sure most US Pres & UK PM will return wallets.

    Take UK as the most glaring example, with its brightest in parliament are consistently been outright shameless liars, such as Blairs lies for Iraq WMD war, and now May’s lies of Skripal case, which all getting near unanimous support from their parliament members speak great volumes.

    There is a Unz article written on how UK has been the mecca of paedophiles, global capital in grooming children for sexual exploitation, with systematic covered up over decades by their politicians because they & those powerful elites were all involved.

    Their police chief even suggested not to criminalize Britons watching/owned child porno as so high a proportion of their nation are doing will overwhelm their prisons & judicial system.

    So what honesty are we talking about here, UK as over 60% honest? Even their moral value is highly questionable if you ask most UK white people.

    And Malaysia getting 3rd highest honesty of near 80% is a great joke just shy from UK. Its one of well known highest crimes & corruption that the West themselves criticized much, even Spore ex-PM LKY openly condemn as violent crime infested. I never know violent criminal is honest, may be yes for the author country when compared to their politicians.

  122. anonymous[351] • Disclaimer says:

    I almost thought I had found a thread on unz where some retard didn’t white knight for the kikes while adding nothing to the discussion. Thanks for not disappointing me.

  123. Smart liars tell cleverer and therefore more believable lies.

  124. Alrenous says: • Website

    Are you aware that cooperation is provably always rational? Of course, as per all ethics, there’s the tension between short-term gain and long-term gain. Cooperation is only rational if you consider the longest term and widest scope, which naturally requires a great IQ. E.g. no matter how difficult it may seem to catch the liar, it is never impossible. And there’s the dumb counterparty problem; if they don’t know they should cooperate, then it may not be possible to cooperate with them, regardless of how wise it would be.

    • Replies: @Kratoklastes
  125. Wade says:

    Takeaway: You lose stuff a whole lot!


  126. That study should be put in a frame with a plaque on it – “How to fingale a desired result by data-mining“.

    Firstly, consider the index for ‘rules violation’: the choice of input metrics is unlikely to have been done without significant “p-questing” (where you trawl through mountains of data until you find some metrics that give you the results you want).

    As to the inputs themselves: without exception, they are numbers pulled out of the ass of someone at an institution with its own biases.

    Political fraud” … as measured by Freedom House: an institution that was pleased to have Condi Rice and Madeleine Albright – two career child-killers – on the board of its gala dinner. Freedom House is a US government cutout, and getting a ‘bad’ score from them is tantamount to being on the US government’s shitlist: par contre, if you’re a client state you can’t get a bad score unless you behead people like the Saudis. As an example: the Zionist apartheid invader-state scores as highly as genuine democracies like South Africa and India. The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are counted as part of the world’s “free” population selon Freedom House.

    “tax evasion” – proxied by an estimate of the size of the ‘black’ economy, as if participation in the informal economy is ipso facto a dishonest act, and never a justifiable reaction to improper governance (and the purported measurement of the ‘black economy’ is unutterable nonsense, given the number of American citizens who confess to using weed during its outright Prohibition); and

    “corruption” – this time measured by reference to the World Bank… an institution that exists to do the bidding of the Western political elite. So France (where a former President is on the hook for massive corruption) and the US (where anybody can buy a Senator’s vote on any issue – except Palestine) both score in the 90s. (Note that I have an incentive to bias myself in favour of the World Bank method, since New Zealand scores 100% – it is, according to the latest table, the least corrupt country on Earth. World Champions again, cuz!).

    Note also that all 3 of these metrics are likely to be correlated – both cross-sectionally and across time – largely because they’re generated by processes that themselves have an agenda, but also because of the things that they purport to measure.

    To try to claim the PCA (principal components) can get around the statistical absurdity of using metrics that are a priori correlated, and that are themselves effectively instrumental variables that seek to estimate a latent, unobservable variable, is compounding errors until you’re left with noise.

    OK… what about the other axis?

    The mechanism used to determine ‘honesty’ (rolling a die twice; reporting the first roll only; payment of 1-5 ‘money units’ for numbers 1-5, and zero for 6) is likewise fraught: although the money units were notionally set to enable comparable purchasing power, units of the same purchasing power yield wildly different levels of utility depending on the (cross-sectional) relative incomes of the participants.

    Regardless, there is no correlation between the ginned-up PRV measure and the proportion of ‘excess fives’ (since income-maximisation would induce dishonest people to claim that they had rolled a 5).

    That’s beyond weird: it’s clearly the ideal outlet for any dishonest impulse. In fact any other dishonest strategy should be rejected out of hand because it would be “EMP-level stupid” (i.e., as stupid as having the ability to get a nuke into the adversary’s atmosphere, then using the nuke to generate an EMP rather than to destroy infrastructure directly).

    The negative correlation that was found with PRV, was the ‘estimated proportion of fully-honest people‘ – sounds legit, right?

    How was that number arrived at?

    Simple, silly: it measured each group’s proportion of people who reported 6 (and thus got no payment) to the theoretical proportion (i.e., 1/6th) – that seems fair enough, since nobody would report a zero claim dishonestly.

    However they then extrapolated that across the rest of the claim distribution, which is just nonsense.

    As I said at the outset, this was pretty typical ‘bad science’; it would not be out of place as a case study on Ben Goldacre’s site (

  127. @Alrenous

    cooperation is provably always rational

    I don’t know where you got that idea from, but it’s nonsense. Especially if the game has a known horizon[0].

    So long as payoffs are not outlandishly tilted[1], the dominant strategy in games with a modest (short term) payout for successfully defecting[2] from cooperation is “generous tit for tat” (GTFT); the GTFT strategy goes as follows –

    ⓐ if you move first, cooperate;
    ⓑ in subsequent moves, defect if your counterparty defects, and cooperate otherwise;
    ⓒ if the game gets in a ‘defect/defect’ strategy for too long, cooperate after 10 iterations to attempt to break the cycle.

    That strategy ‘wins’ – it outperforms ‘cooperate all the time’ angels, ‘defect all the time’ devils, ‘randomised-cooperation’ unpredictables and every other set of mixed strategies that has ever been tried (e.g., ‘Strong Trigger’, which cooperates only until the first time the counterparty defects… and never cooperates again).[3]

    Game Theory is a very interesting subject, and one that all numerate people owe it to themselves to learn about to the highest level that their numeracy permits.


    [0] all of the analysis of strategies only works in games of either infinite length or unknown length. If the number of turns is known, there is always an incentive to ‘defect’ at the second-last turn… which means that there is an incentive to defect the turn before that, and so forth. This ‘percolates’ back all the way to the start, and the dominant strategy actually becomes ‘defect‘.

    [1] the payoffs must be structured such that [defect, defect] pays the defector less than [defect, cooperate], and [defect, cooperate] pays more than [cooperate, cooperate].

    Thus the payoff structure must be that [D,D] < [C,C] < [D,C] for the player whose action is the first item in [,], and [D,D] < [C,C] < [C, D] for the player whose payoffs are second in [,].

    It must also be the case that the excess gain from one successful defection must be less than the discounted value of all future gains from cooperation, and

    [2] 'successful defection' means that one player defects when the other player cooperates. The defector is successful because he gets a higher payoff than he would have if the cooperator had defected, and the cooperator gets a lower payoff than they would if the defector had cooperated.

    [3] remember, all this is true IFF (if and only if) the game has no known end point.

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