The Selfish Benefits of Pronoia

Want to Ward Off the Evil Eye? Just Be Nice

The more the volunteers anticipated being envied in a threatening way, the more helpful they were. Interestingly, they were actually less helpful than controls if they anticipated benign envy, suggesting that their preemptive altruism was motivated by fear rather than sympathy for the less fortunate. The experimenters ran another version of this experiment in which some participants clearly deserved their good fortune and others clearly did not, and as expected, those who were undeserving helped more to compensate for their unearned windfall.


The Benevolent Conspiracy Is Growing

Paul Hawken’s commencement speech

There is invisible writing on the back of the diploma you will receive, and in case you didn’t bring lemon juice to decode it, I can tell you what it says: YOU ARE BRILLIANT, AND THE EARTH IS HIRING. The earth couldn’t afford to send any recruiters or limos to your school. It sent you rain, sunsets, ripe cherries, night blooming jasmine, and that unbelievably cute person you are dating. Take the hint. And here’s the deal: Forget that this task of planet-saving is not possible in the time required. Don’t be put off by people who know what is not possible. Do what needs to be done, and check to see if it was impossible only after you are done.

Check out Paul Hawken’s book, too: Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming

Hawken believes that we are in the midst of a world-changing rise of activist groups, all working toward ecological sustainability and social justice.