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Just what we need — justification for fraud

Researchers say that many people commit fraud unintentionally. And, they commit fraud not because they’re greedy, but because they’re nice! Great — now sociopaths will say they’re only being nice!

Read Psychology of fraud: Why good people do bad things, on NPR.org.

So how will the researchers explain this?

Three Shoreline women charged with defrauding victims of more than $1 million in exclusive ‘Gifting Club’ pyramid scheme, on Courant.com.

Links supplied by a Lovefraud reader.


Posted in: Scientific research

15 Comments on "Just what we need — justification for fraud"

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  1. breckgirl says:

    I am copying a comment posted on the article because it sums up my thoughts better than I could. I am sure some here will argue against the ideas posted because they do not like the implications. It is unfortunate because human nature is what it is and the difference supposedly between us and the animals is we are supposed to apply self control and rise above our natural greed, dishonesty and propensity to have situational ethics. I have failed on this myself as I shall never begin to approach my ideal. I believe this to be true of all but the extent to which this failure continues in our lives – unwillingness to right our wrongs and to own our failings is part of the problem. Claptrap like this article excusing it makes me want to vomit.

    Comment by David Haddon (Ox2):

    Alix Spiegel’s report on Toby Groves’s business fraud concludes with a flat rejection of an absolute morality such that “right is right and wrong is wrong and people should know the difference.” The reason for this flawed conclusion drawn from the economists and psychologists he talked to is the presupposition that human beings are basically good. This was not the presupposition of America’s founders who built checks and balances into the Constitution because they accepted a Christian anthropology that says we are all sinful and selfish.

    Moreover, Christian theology beat the psychologists to the punch when they observe that people overlook their immorality when their interests and those of their friends are in play. Sin, says Christian theology, adversely affects the minds as well as the desires and the wills of human beings. Theologians even have a name for it: the “noetic effects of sin.”

    So what is the solution? Checks and balances to be sure, but finally, nothing less than a spiritual conversion that heals the mind will suffice. A loving relationship not merely with a similarly flawed human father but with God the Father brings conscience to life.



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  2. skylar says:

    Breckgirl, thanks for sharing David’s comment. It says a lot.

    I think that rationalizing is a common reason why people make the wrong choices. It is certainly a defense that spaths use.

    Rationalizing confuses what is right, with what is fair.

    Since many people do the wrong thing, one can rationalize that it “evens the playing field” to also do the wrong thing. Otherwise only the cheaters will win.

    I think the key is to not play the game, where cheaters prevail. But that takes wisdom.



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  3. sheepinsuits says:

    A few thoughts about “research”:

    1) The author of the first article cites the ethics research of business school professors for an article that is supposedly about the “psychology” of behavior. That’s like quoting a punk rock guitarist’s tastes in music in an article about last night’s oboe recital. Just because someone did legitimate research doesn’t mean that the research is relevant to supporting another issue, no matter how related two topics might be. The *context* of ethics research is different from the context of psychopathy research; generalizations from research on a general population are different from generalizations on a special one percent of the population.

    2) Not all “researchers” or “experts” are equally qualified to talk about anything. A “domestic engineer” who once changed a light bulb is not the same as an electrical engineer. A researcher who studies a topic such as psychopathy can talk about things like distributions in the population or signature brain scans of people classified as psychopaths, but that is very different from someone who can talk from the hard road of experience about what it feels like to be the victim of a psychopath. Each is qualified to write a different book.

    3) Whenever I see a writer write or a speaker say, “the research shows that” or “the literature proves that,” I suspect that the person is clueless. It’s what you say when you’re clueless but want to bully your reader or listener into submission. A knowledgeable person is specific with regard to exactly who said exactly what. E.g., conclusions from a business school ethics researcher who studies behaviors in general populations are not the same as conclusions drawn in a study conducted by, say, Paul Babiak, who is known for his work on *special* populations in association with corporate psychopathy.



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  4. Ox Drover says:

    I think it was Benjamin Franklin (Maybe Thomas Jefferson) said that “things are labeled sin BECAUSE they are bad for you, not bad for you because they are labeled.”

    If you look at Christian ethics and most religions for that matter, things that are BAD FOR US are labeled as undesirable…drunkeness, laziness, adultery, murder, theft, and so on.

    There are reasons for this, because not only are they bad for the community but they are also bad for the individual. The Bible frequently talks about people WITHOUT A CONSCIENCE, or that their conscience is seared (not functioning) and calls them people with a “reprobate mind”

    King David was called a “man after God’s own heart” yet we know that David was a sinful man, he took another man’s wife, arranged for the man to be killed in battle…so why was he called a man after god’s own heart? Not because he didn’t sin, but because he was WILLING TO REPENT.

    None of us are perfect, we all “sin” and do things that are bad for the community and bad for ourselves, but the thing is we have to have a conscience and be willing to change our ways. The psychopath has no conscience, therefore no feelings of guilt or shame and WILL NOT/ CANNOT repent. The psychopath cares not for damaging others, for damaging the community and frequently for damaging himself.

    sheepinsuits, you make some valid points. “Not all “researchers” or “experts” are equally qualified to talk about anything. ” Second “Whenever I see a writer write or a speaker say, “the research shows that” or “the literature proves that,” I suspect that the person is clueless. “



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  5. kim frederick says:

    Yeah Ox, and Dostoyevski wrote that we aren’t punished FOR our sins but BY them.



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  6. kim frederick says:

    Okay, good night LF. See ya in the morning.



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