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EPISODE 85 — Ben Franklin's Secret Hack to Make People Like You

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Growing up we were taught to abide by the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. But that's hard to maintain. People get in the way and always seem to let you down, right? A co worker is a jerk to you and you don't know why. You hold a door for someone at the coffee shop and then that person and 15 of their friends all stand in front of you in line. What if there were a simple hack to get your enemies to work for you; some sort of jedi mind-trick for assholes?


Well, lucky for you, that actually exists and Ben Franklin figured it out two centuries ago. He found that asking people he didn't get get along with to do simple favors for him subconsciously forced them into liking him. It's kind of an anti-golden rule that doesn't flow off the tongue at all: Have others do unto you what you want and then they'll continue to do good unto you. ..or something like that.


This week Jack O'Brien is joined by Cracked editors Jason Pargin (aka David Wong) and Alex Schmidt to discuss this "Ben Franklin effect" and why it explains some more troubling human behaviors like internet mob culture and why celebrities slowly turn into their own personas.

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I think one of the things left out of the conversation was fear of reprisal.


On the racism/genocide issue- a few months back I read a statement by a Confederate general from Texas during the Civil War period. He defended the institution of slavery, and part of his rationale was the following: if blacks were to get equal rights and be encouraged to act the same as whites, then it would inevitably lead to white oppression and slavery.


From his point of view, it made complete sense, right? If you grow up in a world where you not only discriminate against a certain group of people but actively keep them subjugated as slaves, and in said world this is not only common, but a multi-billion-dollar industry which is centuries old, then that is your concept of normal, and begs no alternative. I read a similar statement from someone opposed to black voting rights a century later. So it was feared that black people, if given the chance, would obviously do what white people had done to them- because it would be a mirror image of that normal order of things. Indeed, it would have to be even worse, due to the barbarous nature of black people, etc.



There's a common phenomenon where a cheating spouse will accuse the person they're cheating on of having an affair. More generally, there is a great Edgar Allan Poe short story called The Black Cat, which is somewhat subtly about the hate (fear) that stems from wrongdoing.

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Hi Cracked,


Great episode! I thought there was one crucial piece missing from the Ben Franklin Theory. Possibly the most important part of Franklin's scheme was that he gave the book back. Imagine if he had kept the book - his rival would have hated him all the more. Deep down he wanted to trust Franklin, but he only liked him because Franklin proved himself trustworthy.


Thanks for all the interesting shows!



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