A Pact with the Devil

Robert J. Hansen rjh at sixdemonbag.org
Sat Jun 9 05:49:06 CEST 2012

On 06/08/2012 10:35 PM, Waitman Gobble wrote:
> Hmm I dunno, ...opinion... this presumes an automated script can get
> 'bob's' attention

It's remarkably easy.  Look at how many people fall for fraudulent "your
computer is infected, clean it for $29.95" pop-up ads.  Look at how many
people click on links in spam mails promising "free access to porn"
(with an unspoken sidebar of "if you'll click this link and visit a web
page that will do a drive-by hijacking of your PC").

As Einstein is apocryphally held to have said, "Only two things are
infinite: the universe and human stupidity.  I'm not so sure about the

> and either 'Bob' is dumb as a board or he's so
> compelled about the juicy details on 'Alice's' computer that he can't
> help but be naughty.

"Can't help"?  No.  But just *want* to watch, to feel that kind of
power?  Yes.

At risk of sounding like I have a liberal-arts degree (which I do, and I
can ask "would you like fries with that?" in Pashto to prove it), you
might want to read Plato's _Republic_, Book 2, particularly about the
Ring of Gyges.  Book 2 is largely concerned with the question of whether
people are moral because they are innately moral, or whether morality
emerges from the fear of being punished.  I can't do justice to it in a
summary, I'm afraid.

In my own life, I've found a lot of wisdom in the phrase "character is
who you are when you know you can get away with it."

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