Innately despicable, evil beings

I saw a claim today that I've seen before: basically, that the only thing stopping normal people from doing very bad things is the consequences. See the comment from Stewart Smith here where he says, 

Ask your friend what they would do if they had one day to live and could do anything they wanted. See if they don't try and break one law with their last day on earth. I personally have asked this same question to otherwise perfectly upstanding citizens. These 'upstanding individuals' claimed they would literally rape some poor person because there were no consequences, or at the least steal loads of money to fulfil some other harebrained adrenaline rush. My point is that the only thing keeping us humans from committing evil acts is consequence, meaning we as humans are innately despicable, evil beings.

It seems to me that this can be disproven empirically. There are lots of people, right now, who are not bedridden, but know that they are experiencing their last days on earth due to a terminal diagnosis such as cancer. A quick Google search shows multiple heartwarming (and heartrending) stories. People are skydiving, getting married, going hiking, spending time with their children, and in general not being particularly evil. Can someone find some examples of the terminally ill going on rape and robbery sprees?


  1. I hate pessimism. One of my friends (I don't know if she still believes this now) said that the only person you can ever trust is yourself. It's kind of depressing.

  2. Maybe Stewart Smith was just saying what neoclassical economics would imply in this situation...?

  3. Dang, I thought this post was going to be about some of Murphy's commenters!

  4. Sneaky sneaky. Slipping in yet another refutation of the Mises-Rothbard view of how humans operate, and hoping no-one notices.

  5. My working theory, when people espouse such views of others, is that it's projection. Which is scary.


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