We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
On the top of Maggie's Farm, we seem to reject being subject to the efforts of do-gooders. Is the road to hell paved with good intentions? Do-gooders always seem to either want my money, or want to control me.
In just eight dense pages, Prof. Oakley covers a lot of ground and goes far beyond the Law of Unintended Consequences. She touches on psychology, science, medicine, philosophy, and politics. It's a remarkable paper which indeed pulls enough threads together to represent a potential paradigm shift. One quote:
The bottom line is that the heartfelt, emotional basis of our good intentions can mislead us about what is truly helpful for others. Altruistic intentions must be run through the sieve of rational analysis; all too often, the best long-term action to help others, at both personal and public scales, is not immediately or intuitively obvious, not what temporarily makes us feel good, and not what is being promoted by other individuals, with their own potentially self-serving interests.
Indeed, truly altruistic actions may some-times appear cruel or harmful, the equivalent of saying no to the student who demands a higher grade or to the addict who needs another hit. However, the social consequences of appearing cruel in a culture that places high value on kindness, empathy, and altruism can lead us to misplaced "helpful" behavior and result in self-deception regarding the consequences of our actions.
Any number of students over the past 20 years have made fundamentally emotional pleas for a higher grade. Sometimes substantially higher. I have uniformly turned down the requests on the grounds that a) such would not be 'fair' to the other students in the class, and b) unearned rewards are also unappreciated.
I have had a few [too few] students thank me later.
I'm all for science helping people understand everything, including themselves, but when you compare human behavior to molecules, I just can't go there. I have certainly met pathological altruists and been victimized by them. Who hasn't? And those experiences have taught me a great deal about human character. However, I still find more wisdom in Heraclitus 'Character is destiny', than in this almost exclusively mechanistic view of human behavior.
I like the tradition of helping women and children. I would include to that helping the disabled and anyone in trouble. I think it is counter productive to help able bodied boys/men do anything that they should be doing for themselves.