What Is A Trichoplax?

A Trichoplax is one of the simplest organisms you can find. It has no discernible organs or structure, and is basically a flat blob of tissue that moves around. Is it alive? I don't know. But I thought I'd ruminate on other conundrums in this space.

I Agree

Irrational Truth

It's amusing to see the occasional scientific article come across concerning some aspect of human behavior that is incredibly "illogical" when it concerns ethics or religious beliefs. I pointed this out months ago with an article on teleologic statements (statements that say there is purpose to creation) that found people tend to subconsciously believe there is purpose in creation, regardless of their stated beliefs otherwise.

The latest is this article from Ars Technica that talks about a behavioral experiment set up to determine how rational people would be about money. From the article:
The basic rules of the Ultimatum Game are simple. One person is given a stack of cash, and told to divide it between themselves and a second party. That second party is then given the chance to accept or reject the offer; if it's rejected, neither of them get any money. Clearly, any of this free money should be better than nothing, so under assumptions of strictly rational behavior, you might expect all offers to be accepted.

They're not. Things in the neighborhood of a 50/50 split are accepted, but as the proportions shift to where the person issuing the ultimatum tries to keep seventy percent of the total, rejections increase. By the time they hit an 80/20 split, nearly 70 percent of the offers are rejected, even though that 20 percent of the total cash would leave the recipient better off than where they started.
The authors of the experiment went on to refine the experiment to ensure that people could make more rational decisions about the money, but at least 40% of the time they rejected any offers they considered "unfair".

Initially, they try to pin it down as a form of "primate behavior" centered on ensuring "cooperative behavior in small groups" but even that explanation was rejected because they found that even if the only consequence was guilt for accepting an unfair offer, it was still rejected a significant portion of the time.

So, once again, a behavior experiment has teased out the notion that we all have an innate idea of what is right and wrong. Particularly in this experiment, an idea of what is "fair" and what causes guilt. I wonder where that came from?

Anyway, sorry if my exposition of the experiment isn't that clear, the original article is much more in depth. Enjoy.