An All Things Considered segment (MP3) with Chana Joffe-Walt and Alix Spiegel looks at the circumstances that lead to people cheating and committing other frauds. They frame it with the true story of Toby Groves, whose brother had been convicted of fraud, and whose father made him swear a solemn oath to be upstanding in his business dealings. However, Groves found himself committing fraud later, and brought several of his employees in on it.
Typically when we hear about large frauds, we assume the perpetrators were driven by financial incentives. But psychologists and economists say financial incentives don't fully explain it. They're interested in another possible explanation: Human beings commit fraud because human beings like each other.
We like to help each other, especially people we identify with. And when we are helping people, we really don't see what we are doing as unethical.
Lamar Pierce, an associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, points to the case of emissions testers. Emissions testers are supposed to test whether or not your car is too polluting to stay on the road. If it is, they're supposed to fail you. But in many cases, emissions testers lie.
"Somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of cars that should fail are passed — are illicitly passed," Pierce says.
Financial incentives can explain some of that cheating. But Pierce and psychologist Francesca Gino of Harvard Business School say that doesn't fully capture it.
Psychology Of Fraud: Why Good People Do Bad Things
In November, Bruce Sterling published “Pirate Utopia,” a dieselpunk novella set in the real, historical, bizarre moment in which the city of Fiume became an autonomous region run by artists and revolutionaries, whose philosophies ran the gamut from fascism to anarcho-syndicalism to socialism.
Brian from the Recommend if You Like podcast sez, “For episode 200 (MP3), we sat down for a 90 minute interview with Mad Magazine’s Al Jaffee, who, at the age of 95 holds the title of ‘the longest working cartoonist in history.'”
“The Hard Problem” is a new episode of the Into The Impossible podcast from the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination: it features the outcome of a collaboration between legendary performance artist Marina Abramović (previously) and environmentalist science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson (previously): a short story about an interstellar journey incorporating elements of Robinson’s outstanding 2015 novel Aurora — a novel that is pitiless in its insistence on rigor in our thinking about the problems of living in space and on other planets.
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