back to article 'Goodness, evilness makes you powerful' - like the Force

Profs at Harvard uni say they have discovered a crucial meta-physiological effect. Being extremely good and moral - or conversely highly evil - actually confers mental and even physical powers on a person. "People perceive those who do good and evil to have more efficacy, more willpower, and less sensitivity to discomfort," …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    do you think this explains why

    the self-righteous Nick Clegg is doing so well in the polls despite being a clueless gommo?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    It's not working for me

    I've been throttling my employees manually. No wonder I'm tired when I get home.

  3. Graham Marsden

    Highly evil...?

    'Which part of "Mwahahahaaa!!!" didn't you understand?'

  4. Mage Silver badge



  5. Chris Collins

    Mofo Teresa

    Apparently Mother Teresa was an evil old witch who treated her minions like shit. Not a very progressive thinking Catholic, either. Her care for the sick was apparently a bit lacking, as well. However her care for her own sickness wasn't quite so penny-pinching, the leathery old hypocrite. I hardly think she's a shining light of goodness. And Mahatma Ghandi didn't like black people, take a look at his writings from when he was in South Africa, moaning about the natives. I call bullshit on all of this.

  6. James 5

    1st April was...

    19 days ago...

  7. M7S

    Fooled him then

    Those who could hold up the weight for longer were in fact simply dastardly evil henchmen who realised that by appearing good, they could infiltrate the charities in order, ultimately, to get more kittens for the bonsai factories. Or similar nefarious ends.

    A good return for a dollar.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Do Good Not Evil

    [Lewis please never, ever leave El Reg, no one even comes close to the brilliant writing style </sycophancy>]

    Massively flawed methodology and conclusions aside, they dont even support their own conclusions:

    "The Harvard egghead bases his assertions on studies in which subjects were given a dollar and offered the choice of donating it to charity or selfishly keeping it. It turned out that the charitable types were then able to hold up a 5lb weight significantly longer than those who sniggeringly trousered the cash."

    Here is a do good / do evil scenario surely and it implies doing good triumphs doing evil, not the other way round.

    1. Paul 4

      I think the point was

      That giving the money away was good, but keeping it was a nutral act , so the good people were better at it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        One of many flaws

        But that relies on keeping it being neutral and the person keeping it realising that.

        Seems to be one of the multitude of flaws with this "research" farce.

  9. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Ig Nobel prize!!

    worthy at least

  10. Gordon Pryra

    Thanks a lot El Reg

    I read this article and immediately tested this out by beating the crap out of the little old lady who makes the tea in the canteen here.

    Imagine my surprise when I was then unable to beat into submission the 5 coppers who arrived.

    Not one to give up, I am even now whispering evil words into the ears of my cellmates hoping to build up the strength to punch my way through the walls of Wormwood Scrubs….

  11. Secretgeek

    I suppose...

    ...there has to be some benefit to having the rational part of your brain missing.

  12. Jerome 0

    Gaming has it covered

    Does this perhaps explain why games that purport to offer some kind of "moral choice system" in fact simply require you to choose between options like "extinguish the orphanage fire" and "throw a passing kitten into the flames"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Kitten Throwing

      Every time...

  13. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


    If Gandhi and Mother Teresa were very good AND very evil SIMULTANEOUSLY, do they get a double power boost?

    1. ian 22

      It works

      Hitler embodied both good (he loved dogs) and evil (he loved vicious dogs). See where it got him! And no, this is not a Godwin.

  14. AlistairJ

    The alternative finding

    Is that, subjects in psychological experiments tend to behave the way they think they are expected to behave.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    But once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.

  16. Chris Walton

    Another explanation?

    could be that those who pocketed the money were more likely take the easy route in life and perhaps less like to do any sort of physical training or hard work?

  17. disgruntled yank

    Cambridge, America?

    The U.S. Geological's Survey's GNIS service shows 33 populated places in the US named "Cambridge", plus another 50 or so variants. There is, for example, one in Maryland, home not to Harvard Chesapeake College. I take it you refer to the one in Massachusetts.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another explanation

    Those who pocketed the dollar wanted the experiment to end so they could go buy a snickers with it.

  19. Disquette

    Is there more to the study?

    Per the reporting (which I love the style of, especially the bit about Harvard), the article only shows half of the claim of the article's title.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Relaxed muscles = Greater endurance...

    A well-known tenet of martial arts is that in order to maximize performance, you must relax your muscles and avoid your natural tendency to tense up in stressful situations. Tensed muscles have less strength, move more slowly, and tire more quickly.

    So could an alternative explanation be that people who aren't sure of themselves one way or the other are stressed out about being judged, hence have tenser muscles, hence have reduced endurance?

    But gee, that would be a scientific explanation of an obviously-spiritual experience. Can't have that now, can we?

  21. Ugotta B. Kiddingme

    do get it right, please

    That's Cambridge, (in the state of) Massachusetts (in the United States of) America.

    As has been previously pointed out in the forum, there are 23 countries on the North American continent and NONE of them are named "America." Many agree that the southern US is now more "Northern Mexico" than anything else, but I digress.

    We former colonists do tend to borrow a lot of things from the mother country - language (sort of), place names, etc, and try to give credit where due and identify things correctly. I, for one, would appreciate reciprocal care.

    That having been said, cheers!

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      Whereas . . .

      . . .you are clearly from the land of NeedlessPedantryLandia. Many people refer to the USA as "America" and to its residents as (wait for it) "Americans." Thank you for playing, now back to your cave.

  22. Sillyfellow


    yeah, yeah, let's have a good laugh about who did the study, and find fault with those used as examples in the article. none of us are without flaw.

    consider this:

    fear damages confidence, which in turn damages ability to achieve. dishonesty/deceit and acts that cause loss or harm to another, cause fear. (oh no, those questions again. what if i get caught? and more webs of lies to cover other lies etc.).

    really evil people really don't care and arn't afraid. whatever. so are more confident and achieve higher.

    really good and honest people have little or nothing to fear. so are also more confident and achieve far better.

    so i think here it's a case of how much fear or confidence someone has that influences their abilities... how's that for a quick 'observational study' !!

  23. alien anthropologist
    Thumb Up

    @Robert Carnegie

    > If Gandhi and Mother Teresa were very good AND very evil SIMULTANEOUSLY, do they get a double power boost?

    You mean, going Super Saiyan? Holy super cow... so that's how they do it...

    Any specific jell you need to use for the hair?

  24. Mr Mark V Thomas

    Re: "Goodness/Evilness makes you powerful..."

    Oh well, I might as well put the Sith Code from Star Wars, down here.

    "Peace is a lie. There is only Passion...

    Through Passion, I gain.Strength.

    Through Strength, I gain Power.

    Through Power, I gain Victory

    Through Victory, My chains are Broken...".

    As for Alien Anthropologist's post, does this mean their combined power level is now over 9,000...?!

    WTF, Because their power levels are over 9,000...

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