chapter  14
6 Pages

Appreciation for Professor David M. Messick: Peanuts, Ping‑Pong, and Naïveté

WithRobyn M. Dawes

Our present-day discipline of psychonomics has two historical origins: psychology and economics. These disciplines merged around the year 2030 when several leading social science theorists convinced their colleagues once and for all that everyone was indeed totally selfish and that apparent altruism, interest in fairness, and other sentimental concerns were illusory — except for those that could be related to future egoistic benefits. Moreover, consensus arose that though people are not rational in the narrow sense of being logically coherent in their thinking, they (we) are “evolutionarily rational” in the sense of embracing beneficial (not irrational) cognitive heuristics and biases that achieve selfish goals. It is, therefore, of interest to study some of the ideas of a leading theorist from roughly 20 to 60 years ago who believed in the sentimental view of humans as potentially embracing human cooperation and altruism for their own sakes. His name is David M. Messick.