Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Dark Tower, Mordor – Sauron, the Necromancer, Dark Lord, and Lidless Eye is feeling pretty darned good these days. Sure, he doesn’t have the One Ring, but Jesus Hopping Christ, he can still enjoy the havoc it’s wreaking.

Effective altruism’s Big Lie is that an individual can use capital P power for good.

Sauron

Elves, Dwarves, and men may think he’s a super-powered divine being who has fallen (more like risen in his one eye) orders orcs around, and wields mega magic. The real truth is that, yes, he does tell orc legions who to attack. In his heart of hearts, however, he’s an engineer and scientist. After all, wasn’t he a student of Aulë? And that guy is one heck of a builder. If it wasn’t for Aulë he wouldn’t have figured out the vital equations to make the Ring the most effective transformer of energy the world has ever known. But the secret sauce to the Ring and his success has always been the science of psychology.

Psychology is timeless like the void. Places like Numenor will rise and then sink into the ocean (one of his most savage wins), but minds work the same. And mastering psychology is like mastering other intellectual endeavors. You have to know the basic principles. And with sentient beings, the one basic principle is that every single one of them has an incredible gift for self-delusion.

Self-delusion makes villains think they are heroes. Self-delusion makes everyday schmucks can do things like, for example, use the One Ring for their own ends. It’s a case of special pleading in a way. “Sure, I know the One Ring has ruined every life it touches, but I’m going to use it for good!” That’s what that idiot Isildur thought.

Isildur had it all. That guy cut the Ring off Sauron’s finger, causing him to lose corporeal form. Isildur could’ve thrown the Ring into Mount Doom and it would’ve been puppy dogs and rainbows for him. But he thought he knew better. He thought he was the guy who would use it without any problems.

The hearts of men do not change.

Effective altruism’s Big Lie is that an individual can use capital P power for good. Sam Bankman-Fried tricked himself into thinking if he had gobs and gobs of power, then he would use it all for good.

Just. Like. Isildur.

Isildur lost his life.

Sam’s followers lost billions and he destroyed his own reputation.

Sauron is evil. He isn’t stupid evil. The Lord of the Rings knows the nature of power. Billionaire robber barons will always be corrupted.

Perhaps one of Sauron’s titles should be Lord of Income Inequality?


*Readers should not draw any lesson or meaning from the scribbles above. If you did then you may get subversive ideas like it seems more productive to create economic-political systems where power isn’t concentrated in the hands of a Musk/Zuckerberg/Bankman-Fried.

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Andrew Hall escaped a childhood of religious indoctrination and is now a non-miserable human being. He's made millions of people laugh as well as angry. (He hopes he's made the right people annoyed.) Targets...