Are you evil? A quiz

I am annoyed by the perception that if you’re profit minded, you’re evil and Up To No Good. I don’t know why I bother writing about it; this is far from being an impartial audience. What business owner is going to admit they’re evil? It’s only everyone else, not us. Those who lobbied for CPSIA agree that you are, so are we? In our camp, many have decided special interest groups are stupid (Hanlon’s razor). Marginalizing -an attempt at rationalization amid insanity or inanity- prevents a meeting of minds. The end result is that popular culture is imbued with the idea of business owner as scoundrel, it seems to be the default setting of most consumers. Even business owners splinter amongst themselves, deciding an importer or large firm is evil just because.

The average person isn’t very honest. I suspect business owners have similar average integrity and ethics. A recent story in the NY Times suggests that most business school graduates cheat (56%). It’s shocking.

Still, there have been signs that all is not well in business education. A study of cheating among graduate students, published in 2006 in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education, found that 56 percent of all M.B.A. students cheated regularly — more than in any other discipline. The authors attributed that to “perceived peer behavior” — in other words, students believed everyone else was doing it.

I don’t believe there’s such a thing as extenuating circumstances that justify compromised integrity. I don’t believe there’s such a thing as a small evil. Peck says “Evil is the exercise of power, the imposing of one’s will upon others by overt or covert coercion”. What concerns me more is the dramatic increase in narcissism among young people because Peck asserts evil is by its very nature, ego-centric. What most frightened me about Peck’s book were people who purport to be good and right, discouraging others to think independently. In short, nannyism. We know what’s best for you. If you don’t agree with us, you’re a profit minded evil-monger. The biggest problem in arguing with smart people (CPSIA proponents aren’t stupid) is that they are smart, meaning better equipped to argue their points solidifying their opinions if only to themselves (Confirmation bias) and having thus publicly stated it, less likely to withstand potential loss of intellectual face by admitting their errors -even to themselves. Perhaps they resent our ingratitude.

So what happened to integrity and ethics? Or is the idea that we ever had it illusory? We know it’s not just business owners. In case you’re wondering, this is what inspired this entry. She has a point. If we don’t police ourselves, others will do it for us. Or to us as it happens.

Here’s my quiz for today.

Edit 11/23/12
Vizu polls have closed down. Below is a screen capture of the poll results.

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  1. Wacky Hermit says:

    This is one of the reasons why I wanted to have a CPSIA debate on my blog. I had hoped that one of the intelligent CPSIA supporters would be interested in having a debate. So far I haven’t found any takers, but if you know anyone who would be interested, please pass along my email address.

    The four-round, 6000-total-word debate would be moderated by me (I will not be participating in arguments). Each party’s statements would be edited by me for spelling only, so that the arguments speak for themselves. (Poor spelling is a pet peeve of mine.) In each round the participants’ statements would be published more or less simultaneously, with a coin flip to decide whose goes on top. Participants would be asked to not engage in ad hominem arguments, not impugn the intelligence or motives of their opponent, and stick to the word limits for each round.

    I haven’t been able to find any takers for the pro-CPSIA side though. I don’t know if that’s because those who are advocating it are busy, or they are finding it indefensible, or they are afraid. I wish I had some insight into why nobody’s been interested yet.

  2. ummm…Peck’s People of the Lie was a turning point in my life. It was instrumental in me becoming who I am today and seeing the world clearer. So i get exactly what you’re saying and couldn’t agree more.

  3. Leslie Hanes says:

    Re: Malden Mills. The Feuersteins are great people. Unfortunately, your reference to all’s well that ends well is not correct. At the time of the stories, things were better, but they ultimately lost the mill, and their retail store, as well. Doesn’t mean what they did was wrong…it was the right thing to do and Aaron would likely do it again. Just misleading that everything turned out fine. The mill has been in bankruptcy several times, and is not owned by them at all anymore.

    Life isn’t always fair. We have to do what we feelis right, regardless of the payoff. Otherwise, we are just mammals without a purpose.

  4. Natasha says:

    What scares me is how many people at my nursing school cheat. I had a student openly offer to pay to fill in two scantrons and put his name on one of them. Its shocking and scary.

  5. Anita says:

    Cheating is more than just dishonesty, it can be dangerous. Back in engineering school, several friends and I were flabbergasted at some of the blatant cheating we observed. The majority of the cheaters were members of the engineering honor society. At least 4 of my friends declined that membership “honor” because of this. We all joined the “Order of the Engineer” instead, which is something like a pledge that you will not knowingly design something faulty. I believe it was started after a bridge disaster, as a reminder of what’s at stake when one designs something, though I forget the details.

    These cheaters eventually went on to jobs designing airplanes, medical devices, or computer software. What if they decide to cheat in those tasks, as well? My only consolation is that I know at least 2 of these cheaters later changed careers because they couldn’t hack it. It’s something to think about next time you hear about a tragedy caused by a design flaw.

  6. great article, as always! i was raised on the premise that if your a lie, your cheat, your thief!
    i guess that’s how i learned to be brutally honest and that sometimes gets me in trouble! and thanks for always taking the time to add links, i know it’s very time consuming, but much appreciated.

  7. Nina says:

    Great article! I actually deal with the guilty-by-association perception a lot in my day job. (I am a legal assistant…to a medical malpractice and product liability attorney, no less! Everyone thinks lawyers are scum until you need one.)

    It’s all about your actions. I don’t need to tell you there are corrupt lawyers, but, like business people, there are good ones, too. People are people…it doesn’t matter what job they have. They’ll be good ones, bad ones, ones trying to be good but occasionally making mistakes, ones so bad you don’t know how the heck they lasted so long. And people love to slap labels on the opposition…it makes it easier to hate them when they’re not “like us.”

  8. Sabine says:

    I have to admit, I have cheated in school at least a couple of times, prepared for it a lot more often then that, by writing little notes and then forgetting them at home. It was survival for someone who could not remember dates for history quizzes-and they were not multiple choice ones.
    It was nice when I got to the higher school and did not need to cheat anymore.
    Despite all the good arguments against it here, I do not feel like I endangered anyone with it, who cares today if I know on which exact date who invaded who in Europe and who was related to who and born and died when?
    If I need the info now, I know where I need to go look.
    Even if an engineer cheats on a test….he still needs to know where to find the relevant information, he just does not know it by heart. Obviously i am not equaling little notes with relevant info to boost your memory to blatant shortcuts in design processes.
    Once I even had a teacher who allowed cheating:his argument: if you took the time to write the note in incredibly small print by hand and you know how and where to find the exact info you need to answer your question on that hard to read piece of paper, then you know your subject anyways.
    Of course…that argument would never hold in a casino, where you are not allowed to calculate odds and count cards and keep notes.
    And I have a question to all the non-cheaters out there: Have you honestly never cheated? Never eaten one more candy then you were supposed to? Stayed up past bed time? faithfully brushed your teeth twice a day and flossed once without ever skipping it and therefore cheating? Received, lets say, $10 from someone as a gift and not reported it as income? Gone a few miles over your mileage before you are supposed to take your vehicle to the shop for a service? If you never have done anything to bend the rules and thereby cheated, please state your model number and planet of your android origin.
    And to all you cheaters out there: Develop some integrity, it does not hurt! ;)
    bottom line is though: unless you are a computer, you will do things that can technically be considered cheating.

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