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Idle Science

Study Finds Most Would Become Supervillians If Given Powers 419

Posted by samzenpus
from the super-power-corrupts dept.
It probably comes as no surprise, but researchers have found that most of us would gladly put on a mask and fight do-gooders if given super powers. From the article: "But power also acts like strong cologne that affects both the wearer and those within smelling distance, Galinsky noted. The person gains an enhanced sense of their importance, and other people may regard them with greater respect as well as extend leniency toward their actions. That combination makes for an easy slide into corruption."

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Study Finds Most Would Become Supervillians If Given Powers

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  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:36AM (#33868782)

    Simply to avoid having to wear tights.

    • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:07AM (#33869188) Journal

      Maybe, but that's not what those studies say. You seem to assume that someone has a conscious choice to be hero or villain and intentionally choose villain.

      Most people seem to have that kind of delusion. For them you're either clearly doing good and you know it, or you're aware that pillaging and burning is wrong but you deliberately chose evil. Their world has some people who basically chose to be villains and know they're villains.

      You can even look at fictional organizations like SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) in otherwise non-parody movies. And it comes easy to swallow that someone would come up with a business plan like, basically, "I know, let's make an organization that's all about placing bombs and extortion, 'cause that market hardly has enough supply to meet the demand." And then a bunch of people would basically go, "yay, I always wanted to be an evil minion! Where do I sign up?"

      In reality what these studies show has nothing to do with choosing to wear tights or twirl a moustache and cackle manically. They just show that most people, if given power, or even if role-playing a position of power, find it increasingly easy to rationalize bad behaviour. They're not choosing to be evil, they just rationalize being a complete dick as _good_ or at least excusable.

      And not just business decisions. That's the fun part. Sure, you can rationalize evil business decisions via what I call an "argument from capitalism": being evil is good if it makes some investor money. But it extends beyond that.

      E.g., in a study people role-playing some executive-level boss with a posh office would find a $100 bill. And most would not just pocket it and forget about it, but actually lie if someone came asking about it. Whereas those role-playing the peons would be less likely to.

      Or like in that baker's statistic that folks on the executive level were more likely to take a sandwich without paying for it, than the peons on the cubicle floor.

      The illusion that now you're above those pesky peons and their judgments extends not just deciding if to cut costs by dumping radioactive waste in the Mediterranean (actually happened, btw), but even to that kind of stuff. It's not even about fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders or anything, but basically about being a dick. Those in positions of power can rationalize it better and for being more of a dick.

      It applies to heroes vs villains only in as much a case can be made that if they suddenly found Plato's ring and could be untraceable whenever they want, most people wouldn't think "yay, now I can do some serious good with this power", but rather "yay, let's steal some money from the bank" or even "yay, now I can take revenge on the boss/ex-gf/whatever".

      Granted, as TFA points out, not all people. Some actually go in overdrive with applying higher standards to themselves when given power or an illusion of power. So I guess you'd get some heroes too. Most just start rationalizing more of what they want and now can take and be de facto villains.

      But the fun part is that neither would actually consider themselves villains. Someone could be just in the process of leaving with a sack of cash from the bank and just think it's the due that society always owed them, or that they're actually doing a good thing because they might give a tiny portion of that to charity, or really whatever rationalization.

      • And in other news, studies confirm that water is, in fact, wet.

        More at 11.

        • by Moraelin (679338)

          Indeed. Really, the only real news is that they don't know they're now corrupt. They think they're the good guys, only now more entitled to bend the rules a bit, but that's ok because they're the good guys, right?

          And, well, it may not be news to you, but to most people it does seem to be.

      • I think you hit the nail on the head. It's not that people who (in theory) get power say "I'm stronger! Now, let's go tie some poor damsel to the train tracks! Mua ha ha ha ha!" It's that people say "I know doing X is wrong, buuuuuuuuut... well, in this case, it's a bit of an exception because..."

        I can even sort of understand the way they think. For example, what if I were invulnerable, or at least skilled enough that I might as well be? I thought, "Well, I could attack and kill evil people in far off lands

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:45AM (#33869780) Journal

          >>>"Well, I could attack and kill evil people in far off lands. Heroine dealers, warlords, terrorists, etc."

          I wouldn't do any of that. Everybody has a right to live, even assholes. Besides heroine isn't any worse than the beer people use to kill themselves every weekend. And "warlord" is just a derogatory term for "king" or "politician" - we've had presidents that acted like warlords. The only real evil person in your list is the terrorist, but even that could be argued to be a "freedom fighter" in the manner of our George Washington when he fought against UK Tyranny.

          What I'd probably do is act to protect people from their own government (police) which kill & beat innocent citizens every single day via their unconstitutional raids & just general ineptitude.

          • by Creepy (93888) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:58AM (#33871066) Journal

            lol, of all the places to make a typo like that, and see it duped on the next poster...

            Heroin is the drug - Heroine is a female hero. So a heroine dealer deals female heroes, and knowing how buxom most of them are, probably to the sex trade....

            Heroin is a horrific drug, and much worse than beer - instantly and basically permanently addictive and usually destroys the lives of users (much like Meth). I think it should be legal (I think drug enforcement is a waste of time and resources), but require some serious education before you can buy it (as in, do you REALLY want to do this!?). I know 3 ex heroin addicts (I lived in a house with two - 4 of the 6 people in that house had rehabbed together, but for different things), and saw one (a singer in a band I was in) kicking the habit, which is literal kicking when a heroin addict is going through withdrawal. Supposedly the hallucinogen ibogacaine can help them kick the habit without withdrawal symptoms, but the US bans it, so you'd have to go to Canada or Mexico to try that in North America.

            I'd probably fall in the hero category - I have no interest in stealing even if I could get away with it, tend to be charitable, and like to help people. If I had a ring of invisibility (like Ring of Gyges), I'm not sure what I'd do with it... maybe eavesdrop? I don't really see any other use for it because I morally don't believe in stealing.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Requiem18th (742389)

              Seriously, I think I'd just go around killing billionaires and world leaders. Am sure I can come up with a reason later. It's easy to argue that if the world is wrong, reveling against it is actually good.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        >>>They're not choosing to be evil, they just rationalize being a complete dick as _good_ or at least excusable.

        Like politicians explaining why it's _good_ to assess a ~$1000 fine against people who choose to pay cash to their doctors, instead of having insurance? How does that saying go? The road to hell (or tyranny) is paved with good intentions? Or as Mark Twain said, "Lord save me from people trying to 'improve' me. I like my vices and foibles."

      • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:24AM (#33870412) Homepage

        By far the most interesting supervillains are those who think of themselves as heroes. Lex Luthor is trying to save Earth from alien dependence/domination. Doctor Doom is the benevolent dictator of Latveria, protecting the poor country from western oppression.

        • by Cro Magnon (467622) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @11:41AM (#33870744) Homepage Journal

          One of my favorites is Magneto. A whole bunch of mutants think he's a hero. Heck, if I were a super-powered mutant, I'd probably think he was a hero.

    • by bhagwad (1426855)
      You're right. Professor Chaos never wore tights!
  • Well that depends (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xelios (822510) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:36AM (#33868784)
    One man's villain is another man's hero.
    • by ProppaT (557551)

      Well...we can't all be Dexter's now, can we?

      • He is really not even close to a villain in my book.
        Dexter only kills people who kill lots of other people.
        So the only thing he does wrong is not to conform to the laws of his country, which is not a moral issue.
        Therefore, in my opinion, he is not evil in any meaning of the word.
        Now their are a few examples that could be used to cast him as a villain. Season 5 Episode 1 for example where he kills one person that just acted very rude and aggressive and appeared to be a fully bad person (but who knows, the ki

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:39AM (#33868822)

    For the vast majority of people, the most heroic thing they could do if ever presented with Superman-like powers would be to immediately reject them. A real human presented with such powers would likely be a much greater threat to the rest of humanity than a help. Sure, he might start out rescuing cats from trees and people from burning buildings, but how long before he has a mood swing or a temper tantrum? How long before he succumbs to narcissism and the kind of arrogance and paranoia that god-like powers would bring. How long before he comes to resent humanity for not loving him enough, or worshiping him at the level he has come to believe is sufficient?

    And all that's not even factoring in the reality that this is a human being with sexual desires, greed, etc. How would this real life Clark Kent react the first time a girl turned him down for a date, or he didn't have money to pay his credit card bill? You can get into some VERY dark territory there.

    Again, such a superhero would almost certainly be way more of a threat to humanity than a help. Unless there was an alien invasion or giant meteor strike imminent that he could stop, he would be much more likely to cause us way more harm than good.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stanlyb (1839382)
      I would destroy ACTA, DRM, IP and all the rest monsters. Anyone with me?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nursie (632944)

      I don't think a good proportion of us would go that far.

      Give me superman-like powers and I'd be trying to drastically change the world, not protect it.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        That's what you would start out doing. Are you sure that's where you would finish?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Pharmboy (216950)

        :Give me superman-like powers and I'd be trying to drastically change the world, not protect it.

        Ever see the movie "Hancock" with Will Smith? Or for that matter, "The Incredibles". Both show how easy it is to fall out of favor when you have superpowers. Another good example is "Team America World Police", and while they weren't superhuman, they had super powerful weapons, and their attempt to "save" Paris from terrorists pretty much sums it up. The problem isn't about "doing good deads", it is about all

        • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:22AM (#33869426)
          Hancock went to the middle of cities and stopped car chases.

          I think what GP has in mind is more of a Dr Manhattan "War is obsolete, have free energy, I sure hope there's no super-smart guy who can make this into a bomb" kind of change the world.

          Consider that the only outcome at the end of both the film and the original graphic novel is indeed "world peace." Either under the guise of mutual self interest in stopping Dr Manhattan / alien race, or an end to world hunger and war brought about by free and abundant energy. Viedt's manipulation of Dr Manhattan, and his underhanded scheme was moot. Hence Dr Manhattan's last line to Viedt in the graphic novel.

          In other words, to change the world you need to think big. Hancock failed at that.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Pharmboy (216950)

            In other words, to change the world you need to think big. Hancock failed at that.

            Which made him human, like us. It is easy to say "think big" until you are overburdened with all the people who want cats rescued from trees, and want you to save them from the small stuff. It would seem you would get bogged down with minutia with no time to actually think big. "What good are you as a super hero if you can't even save us from the bank robber that shot two people!" kind of things. I dunno, it is an interest

        • The problem is...resisting the temptation of all the Lois Lane types throwing their bodies at you. You would have super babies all over the planet.

          I would not accept any superpowers that rendered me so stupid as to forget that there are an infinite number of ways to achieve sexual satisfaction without risking pregnancy.

          So what, exactly, is the problem here? I don't get it.

        • by bsDaemon (87307)

          Or, what I got out of The Watchmen, which is, the line between heroism and villainy is really somewhat convoluted towards the extremes. Most super villains I've seen in movies or books seem to, more often than not, believe that what they're doing is for the good of humanity. When you're so exceptional that the ability to challenge you isn't generally present in the population its easy to get full of yourself and think you have all the answers. Its then a pretty short hop to just feeling like everyone who

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          You would have super babies all over the planet.

          Providing a woman could withstand your shotgun blast to her uterus.

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        And it doesn't matter if they like it or not.

        That is the scary thing isn't it. After reading many of the posts on Slashdot over the years I can say it is pretty likely that I would be one of the first people to start work on a Kryponite gun.
        Is there that large of a number of people that really feel they have the wisdom and the right to rule with God like powers?
        Now that I think about it using super powers like that to stop oil spills, floods, fires, plane crashes, and all the other seemingly trivial things

    • For the vast majority of people, the most heroic thing they could do if ever presented with Superman-like powers would be to immediately reject them.

      What, and give up my chance to finally avoid all the traffic around here?

      A real human presented with such powers would likely be a much greater threat to the rest of humanity than a help.

      But, but ... even a mere meek mortal like Mr Magoo?

      Sure, he might start out rescuing cats from trees and people from burning buildings

      Not if that darn cat was the one who started the fire in that building.

      but how long before he has a mood swing or a temper tantrum?

      Would you like that in fractions of an hour or would you prefer CPU ticks?

      How long before he succumbs to narcissism and the kind of arrogance and paranoia that god-like powers would bring.

      Well, probably not long after reading that sentence.

      How long before he comes to resent humanity for not loving him enough, or worshiping him at the level he has come to believe is sufficient?

      I guess that all depends on how long it takes before they get an appearance on Oprah.

      And all that's not even factoring in the reality that this is a human being with sexual desires, greed, etc.

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

      How would this real life Clark Kent react the first time a girl turned him down for a date

      Who's going to turn him down after a quick 'flying lesson'? "I don't wa

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        A real human presented with such powers would likely be a much greater threat to the rest of humanity than a help.

        But, but ... even a mere meek mortal like Mr Magoo?

        If he has Cyclops' eye-blasts, assuredly.
        "Now where did I put my glasses?"

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A real human presented with such powers would likely be a much greater threat to the rest of humanity than a help. Sure, he might start out rescuing cats from trees and people from burning buildings, but how long before he has a mood swing or a temper tantrum? How long before he succumbs to narcissism and the kind of arrogance and paranoia that god-like powers would bring. How long before he comes to resent humanity for not loving him enough, or worshiping him at the level he has come to believe is sufficient?

      For me, about five minutes.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I think you're too worried. With superpowers, I might be narcissistic but at the same time people generally only care about opinions of their peers. Conquering the world would be like owning one of those ant colonies you observe from the side via glass. Or going into Karate class with a bunch of 5 year olds and kicking butt -- a regular human adult can do that today but how many bother? With time, a real superman would shrug and find a more exciting place and head for an alien planet. People want a cha

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        Power is very corrupting (the more power, the more powerful the temptation to corruption). How many leaders start out as truly noble freedom fighters, believing in democracy and the people; only to end up as oppressive, paranoid dictators after they finally achieve power?
    • Hold on a sec, champ. Just because I have super powers, you *expect* me to get the mangey feline out of the tree, or to extinguish the burning crack house? How about you step up to the plate and demonstrate a little discipline or ingenuity?

      If one thing burns my super-bacon, it's the entitlement mentality shared by the lot of you. "Oh, I have done something irresponsible, and now I *demand* that you absolve me of responsibility for my actions." And when I don't? Somehow I become the bad guy.

      (If yo
    • That assumes that he is actually weak: afraid of goverment? afraid of being turned down on date? placing his self value to hands of others?

      Sound like a typical comic book nerd :) Yeah, such person should not get to power.

      In reality, powerfull being would be asset that goverment will pamper and know better than piss off in any way. And he will know it too.

      He will have no shortage of women in bed, and one refusal would be just "whatever, next in line please" because power is sexy, he will never be frustrated

      • But people were able to handle Kings, Emperors and others just fine as well as those rulers were able to handle their power.

        In other words, not well at all.

    • by vekrander (1400525) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:25AM (#33869484)

      Have you ever read a comic book before, let alone a movie? Almost every issue you've raised is addressed in some story or another from Superman rejecting his power (the world is promptly asked to kneel before Zod). The first thing Peter Parker does is act for self gain and he sees that his family is promptly met with demise. In the watchman, Dr. Manhattan quickly becomes indifferent, while Ozymandias quickly decides that the ends justify the means. Honestly, I think we already know all of the possibilities if we look at all of the alternate universes humanity has scribed that contain such people. In the end it really comes down to the personality of the person wielding the power.

      It's really not so much different from becoming a public official. Do you vote to ban cable competitors from your district in return for Comcast financing your re-election? Well, you believe that the health care initiative you're trying to pass is for the greater good so you have to be there to get it through. So you take the money, but then they ask you to sign ACTA. But think of the children without health care. Some people will stick to their virtues and others will fall into corruption. If my both the study and my analogy are correct, then yes, the slide into corruption is slippery indeed.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *
        You're way more optimistic than me. I've never once seen a politician who "stuck to their virtues" or who acted in any way but in their own self-interest. I've seen a lot of them who were very good at projecting the illusion of being virtuous, but the truth always came out in the end. AFAIC, politicians and CEO's are just a bunch of sociopaths with ties instead of knives.
    • Funny how most people think of using superpowers for frivolous things like saving people caught in bad situations (certainly noble to do if you happen upon them, but not something to spend your life pursuing). If I had the powers of Superman, I would ask that someone construct a gigantic energy sink, which I would expend some of my unlimited energy into, and sell it at an ultra cheap rate to the whole world. No need to use superpowers for much of anything other than that, as the money flowing in from that
    • by Theovon (109752)

      I've read a little about psychopaths. From what I recall, in today's society, we have no place for them, but a long time ago, such people would become warriors. Their kings trying to vie for territory would use them as soldiers.

  • What about those of us who are lazy and tired and just want to be left alone? Can't we just be left alone??
  • I would use my superpowers to do good things. And if I wouldn't I sure as hell wouldn't announce it before they gave me those powers!
    • > I would use my superpowers to do good things.

      Of course you would. Everyone with power uses it for good things. Just ask them (and they really believe it, too. Why wouldn't they with everyone around them telling them how good they are?)

  • The intellectuals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Petbe (1790948)
    For myself, I would want to be the villain since they tend to be more intelligent. Granted, they time to time do stupid things like killing the hero slowly and explaining all their plans.
    • by Reilaos (1544173) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:44AM (#33868884) Homepage

      The fact that you value intelligence over morality already makes you the villain.

      Also: Doctor Manhattan > Ozymandias.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ebuck (585470)
      They only tell the hero the plans because the director isn't good enough to show the action without explanation. Directors know that pre-screening is critical, and due to their past laziness they have a flaccid audience which expects everything explained in detail. Thus they feel that they need to explain even the obvious stuff or they might land an audience that finds the film confusing.

      Killing the hero slowly is to build up justification in the Hero's brutal execution of the villain. Basically it is
  • by rotide (1015173) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:42AM (#33868852)
    It might be fun to say you would be a super villain, but I have a feeling most people aren't sociopaths. To do what it takes to punish people to further your agenda probably isn't in the cards for most people. Sure, you might not be the most stand up guy, given the powers, but you probably wouldn't be blowing up trains and taking school children hostage.
    • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#33868980)

      How about just being selfish and pretty amoral? I bet a lot of folks could do that. It's not plotting-to-take-over-the-world villainry, but it's not good either.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        How about just being selfish and pretty amoral?

        You'd have to define a what set of morals I'd be defying... In themselves morals are usually selfish. These can vary widely from one person to the next, but they are mostly centered around making oneself "feel good about themselves."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Kjella (173770)

        How about just being selfish and pretty amoral? I bet a lot of folks could do that. It's not plotting-to-take-over-the-world villainry, but it's not good either.

        That would be most people. So you're one superman, there's 7 billion people who have emergencies. Maybe I'd fly down to the Mexican Gulf to plug that oil leak but I wouldn't kill myself trying to save everybody. Not that I'd have to do crime of any type, I figure BP would pay me enough for that one job to make me set for life. I'd just be no worse than the other billionaires out there.

      • selfish vs. self (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DRAGONWEEZEL (125809)

        Here's my thing. How much of myself am I supposed to give if I am

        1. the only super hero ever.
        2. a member of a small super hero population
        3. a member of a large super hero population.

        What I mean is, even if you are a super hero, are we to allways give 100% and not take care of ourselves?

        I want to do what I can to help mankind, but I just don't know how I can spend more than a few hrs a day doing it (with occasional long days for meteors & allien invasion), especially when I still have to work a regular

    • Sociopaths are quite uncommon(I think the number hovers a bit under 1%, possibly tossing in a few hardline narcissists and 'serious bad news not otherwise specified' types); but the trouble is that almost everyone who isn't a candidate for sainthood has a sense of empathy calibrated pretty well for the size of the primate groups that we lived in 100,000 years ago. In a world of 6.5 billion, global trade routes, and a nest of externalities, that doesn't help nearly as much as it might.

      This 'moral myopia'
    • Supervillains don't look like supervillains from up close.
      In fact, they look a lot like superheroes.

      Think of all the injustice (however you choose to define it) in the world.
      Now, if you could get away with it, would you punish the perpetrators?
      Would you murder Hitler?
      Where would you stop?

    • by Stargoat (658863)

      Mod parent up.

      I trust the average person. In fact, I trust them so much I approve of arming the average person (Second Amendment and all) with concealed carry laws. I would not imagine that I have any more to fear from a super hero capable of beating me up then a dude with a gun capable of shooting me.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      "but I have a feeling most people aren't sociopaths"
      really? Read Slashdot comments at -3 or the comments on CNN, Digg, and Engadget.
      That should change your mind.

    • by Jason Levine (196982) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:54AM (#33869922)

      You don't need to start out blowing up trains and taking school children hostage. You could even start out as a superhero. You're taking down criminals to help out the cops and protect the innocent. Then you start seeing that you're busting the same criminals over and over because the justice system isn't working right (from your perspective... maybe the reality is that a vigilante who contaminates evidence with his actions & doesn't stick around to testify leads to charges that don't stick).

      So you start justifying taking harsher action against the worse criminals. After all, that guy that opened fire in the Elementary School would have just killed again had you not taken him out, right? You're still protecting the innocent. And this guy waving a gun around during a mugging? He's just a step away from killing someone. Take him out now and you save even more innocents.

      Before you know it, you make one little mistake. (Hey, how were you supposed to know the guy running with the purse was trying to *return* it to the little old lady before you zapped him with your heat vision?) Now everyone thinks *you're* the super-villain. They want to lock you up. But you can't help people if you're locked up so you fight the police... for their own good, of course. Why won't they just let you punish those people you find guilty without getting in your way? They must be part of the corrupt system and equally as guilty as those criminals they set free. Better take them down too. Things will be a lot better when you take over the world.....

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by freeweed (309734)

        Yeah, or as Marvel put it: The Punisher.

        There's a character that epitomizes the "Oh, I'd only do GOOD things" principle, and where it inevitably leads. And this is a guy without any "powers" to speak of.

  • You can run
    But you can't glide

  • Study? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Paul Rose (771894) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:45AM (#33868892)
    Study? Did they grant super powers to a set of people and observe the results? I skimmed TFA and didn't see anything about a study. Just a bunch of reasoning about what would probably happen.
    • They probably asked some 14 year olds who had just watched The Watchmen. "Hey, you! Dr Manhattan or Night Owl?" "Are you kidding? Night Owl was a fat old dude with a ship that looked like a dirty boiled egg! I want to blow people into gibs by waving my hands!" "Cool, good guy explosion of people? Like to stop tyranny?" "No way man! Super awesome bad guy gibs of ponies and people who love ponies! PEW PEW!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They didn't get the extra grant money to purchase radioactive spiders.

      They thought they had a mutagenic compound, but it was just someone's lunch left in the back of the fridge for six months. Botulism's only known power is to defeat wrinkles.

  • Obviously people will abuse power given the chance; but don't the fools know that you are supposed to lie about your motives until you have the power?

    And this is why sheep are harmless, wolves go through a brief period of dangerousness before being neutralized by the cops, and wolves in shepherd's are genuinely dangerous.
  • Most likely neither (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gad_zuki! (70830) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:51AM (#33868984)

    When we give people something of economic value they tend to monetize it. You don't need to become an altruistic weirdo or psychopathic criminal. Its just like talent. Some people have all sorts of talents and find a way to monetize them. Good singers try to get recording contracts, clever people go to college, etc. If you gave me super strength I would be performing feats for money. If I had super-smarts I would be cracking the stock market or starting a revolutionary tech company.

    This doesn't happen in comics because its boring to read about guys putting on shows or starting business. Most superhero comics are nothing more than a sci-fi version of cops and robbers.

    • If I had super-smarts I would be cracking the stock market or starting a revolutionary tech company.

      I'd rather crash the stock market and start a revolution.

      You know. Stir things up a bit.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      So you would be Tony Stark. Cool.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:59AM (#33869084) Homepage Journal
    .... nah, lets have fun.
  • Well, Duh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alicat1194 (970019) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:03AM (#33869140)
    If TV and movie have taught us anything, it's that the bad guys have the best toys, the best costumes, and more amusing evil sidekicks (and henchmen. Can't forget the henchmen).

    Compared with that, why would anyone want to be a good guy?

  • I think many of us here would go by the Drunk Tank (podcast) explanation of 13 year olds with superpowers: (paraphrased)

    "For any given superpower, the question to ask is 'How many steps does it take to translate this ability into seeing naked girls?'"

  • I was thinking about something along these lines just last month. Here is a question for you. Suppose you had the power to stop time for everyone else but not yourself. How could you use this power for your own benefit without doing anything imoral or illegal?
    • Off the top of my head:
      1) Renovate my house
      2) Time to exercise
      3) Time to read
      4) A three hour nap in a half-hour lunch break.
      5) Finish work projects on time
    • by Zenaku (821866)

      I can answer that one. After every 16 hours of real time, I would pause the universe and get a full 10 - 12 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep, without actually having to waste any real time on it. I get to sleep well so that my brain can function at peak capacity, and I get to be awake and do productive things while everyone else sleeps.

      Superpower Physics Question: If time stops for everyone but me, does that mean I continue to age while time is stopped? If so I'll be paying for this benefit with what

  • by 93,000 (150453) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:28AM (#33869534)

    I wouldn't spend my efforts trying to destroy mankind, but I'd probably rob a bank every now and then.

  • The study answers one of my favorite questions:

    "Do I use my powers for good or for awesome?"

    Awesome it is...
  • I dont think Id go so far as to become a mustache twisting supervillian bent on bank robberies and world domination. But thats not to say i would be a noble protector devoting my life to helping the downtrodden either, necessarily. Barring some emotional scarring like my uncle dying right when I got the powers, there is a high likelyhood that I would just use them for personal gain, monetary success, and whatever (legal) means i could find to capitalize on my powers to support myself and my own private li
  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:35AM (#33869640)

    ...to get what you wanted. Anything you wanted would be given to you anyway. You'd be showered with acclaim, access, women, riches, and political power if you were a superhero. If you had the patience of a goldfish, you wouldn't have to go around using your super strength to break into bank vaults. About the only thing I thing you'd have to worry about is those currently in power being intimidated by you and trying to knock you off or extort you to control you.

  • Plutonian (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:41AM (#33869726)

    Mark Waid did a better study of this in "Irredeemable"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irredeemable [wikipedia.org]

  • Yes, it comes as no surprise:

    "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

              -- Lord Acton, 1887

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @10:51AM (#33869870)

    I'd become evil in an eye blink. Deep within my lair I would tie people to by horrendously over engineered table and unfold my nefarious plots to educate people about how bad their sense of editing, spelling, grammar and story selection are.

    "No Mr Samzenpus, I expect you to learn"

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: #44 Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.

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