How much you like someone is a poor predictor of their ethical behavior

It’s been observed that subcultures have this problem where conflicts within the subculture tend to devolve into popularity contests, even if they’re officially someone else. Everyone involved may claim they’re taking a principle stand, but somehow the more popular person ends up crushing the less popular person the vast majority of the time. This is well-known, but I don’t think people pay enough attention to why this happens.

Having observed such conflicts play out a few times, a common thread seems to be: “I know S. S is a good person. S would never do the thing they’ve been accused of.” But this reasoning so often produces the wrong result. Well-liked people very often behave in ways that don’t match the image they’ve cultivated. How much you like someone is a poor predictor of how ethically they’ll behave.

I predict that many people will read this post and simply take for granted that it’s obvious. And next time they see a conflict within their subculture, they’ll remember it… and then think, “except in this case, I really do know they’re extremely ethical, and couldn’t possibly have done this thing…”

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