Shiny Red Button

Posted: June 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

“I read this article, about conditioned responses or whatever. Pavlov stuff, you know? They took people of various ages, babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, college students, adults, all the way up to seniors. And they put them in this room kind of like a therapist’s office, leather couch, plants, light but not too much light, the whole deal. There’s a panel with two switches on it. No labels, no instructions. The people are told to just sit and wait, and make a mental note of anything unusual.

Now some people, they do as they’re told. They plop down on the couch, maybe put their feet up, and look around. Others want to know what the trick is. Even if they figure they’re being watched, they assume there’s some kind of surprise in store, so they go looking for it. Move stuff around, peek under furniture, so on. The interesting thing about this whole thing is the switches. Something like 85% of the people in the test, all ages, they play with the switches. When they flick the switch on the right, a panel opens up in the wall, and a cookie, an Oreo or something is waiting for them. Most of those people take the cookie and eat it, maybe flick the switch a few more times, and each time there’s a cookie.

After a while, they figure the second switch deserves checking. It might be something bad, since the other switch merits a reward, but curiosity is just too strong. So they flick the left switch, and after a second, a person in plain clothes comes out and hands them another cookie on a plate, smiles, says nothing and leaves. Now this is where it gets interesting. Usually they try again without eating the cookie just to see what happens. Boom, another person with a fresh cookie on a fresh plate. Over time, the vast majority of people start flicking just the left switch, to have their cookies delivered by a live person. You know what that means?”

“I suppose it means we prefer face-to-face interactions.”

“Nope, try again.”

“…Deep down, we all want someone to take care of us.”

“Not even close, doc. It means we all want power over another human being. At all phases of our life, no matter who we are or where we come from, we want someone else to work for us while we hardly lift a finger.”


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