There’s a well-known survey in sports, known as the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. More than half of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same. About half of the athletes were quite ready to take the bargain.
Only recently did researchers get around to asking nonathletes the same question. In results published online in February, 2009 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, exactly 2 of the 250 people surveyed in Sydney, Australia, said that they would take a drug that would ensure both success and an early death. “We were surprised,” James Connor, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of New South Wales and one of the study’s authors, said in an e-mail message. “I expected 10-20 percent yes.” His conclusion, unassailable if inexplicable, is that “elite athletes are different from the general population, especially on desire to win.”
Question, as I recall, was first posed by Hal Higdon in '72. And I think it appeared in an article in Playboy. (which once upon a time really was worth buying just for the articles) (maybe it still is?)
The secret to getting a high percentage willing to make the five year trade is to ask very young people. The closer you get to the bottom (or is it the top?) of the actuary tables the less enthused about this hypothetical.
Last edited by lonewolf on Wed Jan 20, 2010 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.
Of course they''re willing to die and not just elite athletes. Athletes have died from roid use. Athletes are aware of this, there are many inherent risk, death one of them, that hasn't stopped those who use and continue to use.
gh wrote:When I was young and dumb, and seriously believed there was no life worth living beyond 30, I suspect I would have made the trade.
And you were clearly not alone. I distinctly recall having this exact discussion with other runners, when we were in our early 20s, and while the consensus might not have been 100% "for," it wasn't far below 100%. It takes some life experience to realize that "fame" and "glory" may not actually be all THAT significant...
It doesn't make sense to ask non-athletes this hypothetical. A better question would be "win the lottery but die at 30."
It's a bit of a faulty premise anyway, because how can 50% of athletes take something which guarantees them gold? On some level they know the question is nonsense before they answer it.
Somebody needs to run some sort of Milgram experiment, where there's a guy with a clipboard and a white coat and a needle there in the room telling them it's okay, lets go, but first they speak to a former gold medallist whose been made to look like he's at death's door on a hospital bed, who gives a little pep talk about how it was all worth it.
Then the results might be meaningful. Or they might not. Because that Milgram experiment was flawed anyway. The guinea pigs it turns out are correct to trust the authority of the "experimenter" because nobody gets hurt. An interesting test would be if the results differed if the electroshocks were real - maybe people would get a different vibe off somebody who was legitimately up to no good (people do fall for the deception, but it's a benevolent deception.)
Asking that question is moot. I think that it's safe to say that most humans are only paying lip service to the concept of death until they are faced with it. Example: catastrophic or terminal illness and/or age.
Daisy wrote:There’s a well-known survey in sports, known as the Goldman Dilemma. For it, a researcher, Bob Goldman, began asking elite athletes in the 1980s whether they would take a drug that guaranteed them a gold medal but would also kill them within five years. More than half of the athletes said yes. When he repeated the survey biannually for the next decade, the results were always the same. About half of the athletes were quite ready to take the bargain.
From what I have heard no one could ever confirm Goldman's quoted study, or find it published anywhere. When I read his book, however, it actually made sense to me.
bambam wrote:When I read his book, however, it actually made sense to me.
In what way did it make sense to you?
The poll made sense in that I could see young athletes, thinking they were invulnerable, would be willing to take something that might kill them in a few years if they could win a gold medal by taking it. They would be arrogant and their youth and their superb health and think, "Yeah, yeah, sure. I'll take (won't kill me!)"