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Orchestrating random acts of kindness as a response to the 'Batman' massacre

  1. Jul 22, 2012 #1
    It seems to me that the recent deeds of ……… ………. cast a serious aspersion on the reputation of higher learning and the worth of knowledge in general. That is a depressing if not completely unacceptable predicament in many ways. I don’t know where he was studying, with whom, in what topic area or, indeed, the topic of his thesis. Perhaps even those details don’t matter. It seems plainly obvious to me that his psychological education was far from well rounded by any interpretation.

    1. There is a train of thought that to meet such a tragedy with something good is a crime in itself. There is another train of thought that crime deserves significant response – also occasionally known as the deterrent hypothesis of criminal justice. That response is usually in apparently poor taste. If it is in poor taste to meet such a tragedy with a…retaliatory act then it’s worth doing IMHO.

    2. If it’s worth responding to such a tragedy with an act of compassionate kindness, with the simple aim of improving the mood/optimism of those negatively impacted by the tragedy, then it’s obviously worth doing.

    I would suggest people en mass give away (reasonably small) amounts of paper money to random pedestrians some time soon.

    I’ve wanted to contribute something substantive socio-scientific to this forum for a while and I suppose this is as close to my area of expertise as anything.

    NB. The other objection (IMO) to responding (significantly) to a “one man massacre” like this is that to do so would heap more attention on perpetrator, which is what they crave/were motivated by more than anything. Knowledge of a simple diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder (aka delusions of grandeur/an unrealistically inflated ego; one possible cure being reminded to “get over yourself” etc) could well ameliorate that problem to a large extent.

    Suggestions compadres?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 22, 2012 #2
    I like the idea! I suppose from a scientific point of view any benefit of random kindness would be pretty hard to quantify, but from a social point of view I could certainly see the benefit of people being nicer to each other. I dunno if cash itself is necessary, do you think other kindnesses could be just as good?
  4. Jul 22, 2012 #3


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    I agree that to pay attention to the perpetrator of a crime is non-productive.

    Random acts of kindness to strangers are contagious: they often motivate the receiver to be more willing to help others. Cooperate with family and relatives. I help you, you help me. I help you, someone else helps me. Neighbors help each other. Groups of cooperators out-compete groups that don’t cooperate. It is important to not expect any reward in return for helping someone. Our reputation improves because people notice our helpful behavior. These actions are known as “altruistic” and can be called “win-win” because everyone involved gains.

    If you help someone in any way and they thank you, you may answer, “You’re welcome. And if you can help someone else in the future, do so. Pass it on.”
  5. Jul 23, 2012 #4
    I do not believe acts of kindness, random or otherwise, are going to help at all in this matter. Rather, I personally believe such acts only perpetuate horrible social behavior by allowing unfit traits to survive therby giving them the opportunity to spread. Better I believe to allow Natural Selection more influence in the selection of fitness: had we allowed this to happen, I suspect he would never have survived long enough to legally buy a gun.
  6. Jul 23, 2012 #5
    Er...why, exactly? What would have stopped him?
  7. Jul 23, 2012 #6
    If his lineage is unfit, it should be de-selected. But American society caters, nurse-maids, and supports weak lineages all in the name of kindness. Had society been more harsh in it's selection process, his traits, his parents, and their lineage would have been more harshly challenged. This more challenging environment would have more effectively weeded-out the weak. And if this lineage was weak, as I suspect it was, it more likely would have succumb and been de-selected before this time.
  8. Jul 23, 2012 #7
    What makes you say his lineage was weak?

    And I don't think kidness is necessarily a maladaptive quality. For the individual person, kindness may not be the dominant strategy, but from society's point of view, everyone being kind to one another should tend to maximize the sum of the payoffs of the individual players. It's just like a Prisoner's dilemma.

    If you only care about yourself, then you will be a mean person, and so will everyone else, resulting in a depressed world. But if you cared about others, even though it's bad for you as an individual, and if somehow you could get others to reciprocate it, then you have a happy society. Probably this reciprocation could be achieved only through diplomacy and understanding. It would be crazy to expect it from others, since it is a dominated strategy.

    The key then is cooperation and diplomacy among people so that the goals of the collective can be pursued over the goals of the individual. I think the OP's suggestion is catered towards this goal.

    Or you could play it tit-for-tat and be kind to others *until* they are mean to you, in which case you fight back. I have seen this to be an effective strategy in many FFA-type games and life is such a game!

  9. Jul 23, 2012 #8


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    jackmell, I would like to ask you please, several questions about what you’ve written above.

    1. How would you determine (what standards of measurement) if someone’s lineage is unfit?
    2. Who would be in charge of determining if someone’s lineage is unfit and should be de-selected?
    3. How do you define “weak lineage”?
    4. How would a “more challenging (harsh) environment” be implemented?

  10. Jul 24, 2012 #9
    I didn't say his family (lineage) was weak. I only suspected it was so. However I do wish to stay on topic as a curtesy to the thread author: I do not believe acts of kindness are going to resolve horrible social behavior. Rather I believe a more harsh selective process would: Let people stand on their own two feet. Swim or drown. Cook or get out of the kitchen. Stop supporting those who are too lazy to support themselves. If you can't make it, tough.

    I do not believe in welfare, medicare, social security, and the unremitting latitude law enforcement gives to the criminals. Often the victim is treated more unfairly than the criminals which more often than not just go to prison, get three squares, a bed, medical care, exercise equipment and learn to be even more harrible criminals. American society is way too easy, too soft, too forgiving, too kind and as a consequence, we have terrible social problems because such policies are contrary to the natural forces (Natural Selection) which would rid from the gene pool, many of the traits that cause these ills.
  11. Jul 24, 2012 #10
    What the heck is this "selective process" you're talking about?
  12. Jul 24, 2012 #11
    I do not wish to dominate this thread as it's not mine and what I speak of is quite ice cold but I do feel obligated to reply when someone asks me a direct question: Suppose we eliminate welfare and just for now, ignore possible unintended consequences I can't predict. Now a welfare mom with three children has just been identified for possible de-selection. She has a choice to make. She can exhibit fitness by adapting to her new environement, no mo' free money, by finding a way to survive, support herself and children. Or she can exhibit unfitness by not adapting and just wallowing in poverty. In the latter case, her children suffer because of this. They become susceptable to ill health, starve, commit crimes, go to jail, and become available for "deselction" (death or an inability to reproduce or survive), and if so, would not in general, contribute to the gene pool. The act of removing welfare has caused a natural selective force to select those individuals capable of exhibiting strength of will, determination, fitness, and adaptability and conversely, deselecting those too weak to exhibit these fitness characteristics.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
  13. Jul 24, 2012 #12
    This is a stupid train of thought, whoever came up with it. Or do you mean to do a good thing for the criminal? I'm not sure I totally understand this point.

    I don't see how anyone could argue that doing something compassionate for victims of a crime/tragedy/whatever is a negative thing. You agree it's worth doing, but I don't even see that there was an opposition to this point.

    I personally don't believe that withholding compassion and kindness to those who have been negatively affected by crimes is the right choice simply because the narcissist will gain some amount of pleasure from this. Ask yourself: Is it really not worth doing good things and raising peoples' spirits simply because some A-hole might get a misplaced ego-boost?

    Also, Jackmell, your philosophy is not only sociopathic, but almost surely wrong. Driving people into poverty and crime does not mean they will die, and it surely does not mean they will not procreate. Your idea would simply lead to a generally crappier place to live for everyone.
  14. Jul 24, 2012 #13


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    Would gouvernment authorities offering counselling services to those affected fall into this act of kindness category? Categorizing acts of kindness to just that by the individual seems limited.
  15. Jul 24, 2012 #14


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    Of course counsellors who help people who are grieving are acting with kindness and consideration. There are many different ways to help our brothers and sisters.
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