Ask A Genius 587: “Assholes: A Theory,” Decency, and the Cosmos’ Information

In-Sight Publishing

December 9, 2020

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, I’ve seen your American deceased artist, Bob Ross. He seems like a generous, warm, and kind person. Other people in your country are shitheads. So, what’s the benefit of a life lived as a generous, kind, and warm person compared to being a shithead?

Rick Rosner: First, I want to recommend a book on what makes somebody a shithead. There’s a book called Assholes: A Theory, I don’t know. It was written about 10 years ago. I think the guy – I don’t remember his name – wrote a sequel. I think also had assholes in the title.

But anyway, if you find Assholes: A Theory, you can also find the sequel, which deals specifically with Trump. According to this guy’s theory of assholes, which I agree with, an asshole is somebody who claims privileges that other people are decent enough not to claim.

Before everybody started learning how to use cell phones with good manners, back when everybody talked on cell phones instead of texting, assholes are people who would talk loudly on their phones in public after the time when most people would learn not to do that.

They’re taking the public space and occupying it with their loud voice. Exercising not a privilege, but they’re doing something that other people hesitate to do out of decency, cutting in line, getting into the ten items or less line with twenty five items, stealing a taxi from somebody when somebody else hails a taxi, then you run up and get in before they came.

All these are asshole moves. These are moves that most people don’t do because everybody likes living in a little Golden Rule world. We like the Golden Rule because it just seems to be the basis of so much ethical behavior.

There’s the big Golden Rule, which says, “Don’t kill people, don’t rape people, don’t steal all their shit.”

But I’d say that the little Golden Rule, because you wouldn’t like that. The little Golden Rule says, “Don’t even do a bunch of minor annoying things because you also wouldn’t like that.” So, everybody likes living in a world in which people aren’t total fucking assholes all the time.

It’s nice for everybody, but it leaves everybody vulnerable to assholes. Nobody knew how to fight Trump. We still don’t know how to fight Trump because he’s this rare person who stops at nothing.

We were soft targets of this behavior because you don’t find this level of indecency very often. Then fucking Trump, he exercised his huge indecency at the same time the Republicans as a whole party decided, “Well, it looks like we can get away with acting without decency.”

Even tens of millions of Evangelicals whose religion is based on decency decided that we can be bad in defense of a few moral stances that we think are paramount, like fighting abortion, getting judges in there that will fight abortion, that will overturn Roe v Wade, so, now, America is steeped in anxiety and misery.

The reason is that decent people engage in the big and little Golden Rule. That it’s nicer for everybody when everybody isn’t a fucking prick. So, anyway, your original question was, “What’s the benefit of being a decent person?”

One benefit is when everybody is a pretty decent person within reason. Everybody is fallible. Everybody fucks up. But when everybody strives to be decent and tries to minimize the amount of shittiness they’re engaged in, it’s nicer for everyone.

It’s probably not a zero sum game, where a world in which everybody is pretty decent probably feels better. The aggregate amount of happiness is probably higher than if some people were motherfuckers and got happiness from that at the expense of happiness in other people.

I’d say a utilitarian framework probably has people being pretty decent, up to the point where it gets ridiculous, where you don’t want to be like the Jains who walk around with like masks over their mouths, so they don’t accidentally kill insects by breathing them in.

Jacobsen: Yes. Cheesecloth.

Rosner: What?

Jacobsen: Cheesecloth.

Rosner: So, anyway, up to a point, probably, short of that point, so, that’s a huge benefit. Being able to go about your life, we’ve had decent presidents for the most part. Obama was too decent. He got played by the Republicans. But you didn’t have to follow politics every day to see what fucking new scary thing happened.

Unless, you’re a racist motherfucker, Obama’s presidency was a calming time. There were causes for anxiety under Bush, too. The collapse of the housing, the real estate bubble collapse, and the collapse of the economy caused a lot of misery.

That, he plus Cheney, he had them lying us into the Iraq war, which caused a lot of misery. But the man himself is a guy. It’ famously said he’s a guy you’d enjoy having a beer with, a friendly happy guy you’d like to be pals with.

So his presidency, even though it caused a lot of misery, it didn’t cause the fucking rancorous misery of Trump. Before Bush, Clinton, a very affable guy and not dangerous. Unless, you’re an intern. Then he might jizz on you.

Fucking before that George Bush Sr. was a very decent guy. Reagan started this whole wave of Republicans turning into the most horrible major U.S. political party in history. But the man himself was very charming and very comforting to have as well not comforting the liberals because we saw what he was up to.

But he was a very much a warm presence in the Oval Office. Even as he planted the seeds for the dismantling of democracy, we, usually, have a decent person in the White House. We, usually, have decent, at least until recently, near majority of conscientious political leaders.

There were always the racist fuckers down south, the George Wallace’s, but there were people, fucking Hubert Humphrey, the happy warrior; Lyndon Johnson, was a prick. He was really good at playing power games.

But after the assassination of Kennedy and becoming president, he decided to play power games to usher in all of the Civil Rights Era. This motherfucker from the southern state decided to fucking lay it all on the line and passed Civil Rights legislation, which cost the Democrats the entire South.

Democrats used to be a casual and, maybe, not so casually racist political party that owned the South. I just saw the election map from 1960 when Kennedy narrowly beat Nixon and the entire fucking south, except for Florida, went to the Democrats.

That hasn’t happened since probably 1964 when the South said, “Fuck you, you just empowered… you just gave civil rights to all these black people.” They lost. The Democrats rarely win southern states ever since.

While Obama did pretty well in the whole country, he probably picked up some Southern states. I don’t know. But anyway, like basic human, widespread basic human, decency makes everybody feel good, it provides stability, safety.

Otherwise, you get the Purge. Purge is a series of thrillers/horror movies where a hellish America of the near future has said that like one day a year, for 12 hours, anything goes, nothing is illegal.

They figured this would get rid of a bunch of bad guys because you could just kill over something. I’ve never seen one of the movies, but I think that was the rationale behind the plot. But it’s nicer when shit isn’t the Purge. So, that’s where you get your decency back.

You get the decency you invest and more back when everybody is decent. It’s like the fucking universe. The more matter there is, the more information matter can exchange and the more precisely defined matter is.

It’s no coincidence that in a universe with ten to the 80th or 85th particles, gravitation is like 1/10 to the 40th, as strong as the other forces. Like the precision with which matter is defined is on a scale of one part in 10 to the 40th, which is the square root of the number of particles in the universe.

The more particles you have, the more precisely the interactions among all these particles can define all the matter in the universe. And you need precisely defined matter for shit like us, for order to emerge out of chaos. Similarly, the more people you have or decent, the more decency there is to go around and the more you can build from this order and stability. The end.

[End of recorded material]


Rick Rosner

American Television Writer


(Updated July 25, 2019)

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.*

According to some semi-reputable sources gathered in a listing hereRick G. Rosner may have among America’s, North America’s, and the world’s highest measured IQs at or above 190 (S.D. 15)/196 (S.D. 16) based on several high range test performances created by Christopher HardingJason BettsPaul Cooijmans, and Ronald Hoeflin. He earned 12 years of college credit in less than a year and graduated with the equivalent of 8 majors. He has received 8 Writers Guild Awards and Emmy nominations, and was titled 2013 North American Genius of the Year by The World Genius Directory with the main “Genius” listing here.

He has written for Remote ControlCrank YankersThe Man ShowThe EmmysThe Grammys, and Jimmy Kimmel Live!. He worked as a bouncer, a nude art model, a roller-skating waiter, and a stripper. In a television commercialDomino’s Pizza named him the “World’s Smartest Man.” The commercial was taken off the air after Subway sandwiches issued a cease-and-desist. He was named “Best Bouncer” in the Denver Area, Colorado, by Westwood Magazine.

Rosner spent much of the late Disco Era as an undercover high school student. In addition, he spent 25 years as a bar bouncer and American fake ID-catcher, and 25+ years as a stripper, and nearly 30 years as a writer for more than 2,500 hours of network television. Errol Morris featured Rosner in the interview series entitled First Person, where some of this history was covered by Morris. He came in second, or lost, on Jeopardy!, sued Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? over a flawed question and lost the lawsuit. He won one game and lost one game on Are You Smarter Than a Drunk Person? (He was drunk). Finally, he spent 37+ years working on a time-invariant variation of the Big Bang Theory.

Currently, Rosner sits tweeting in a bathrobe (winter) or a towel (summer). He lives in Los AngelesCalifornia with his wife, dog, and goldfish. He and his wife have a daughter. You can send him money or questions at LanceVersusRick@Gmail.Com, or a direct message via Twitter, or find him on LinkedIn, or see him on YouTube.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Founder, In-Sight Publishing


In-Sight Publishing

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing and Editor-in-Chief of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal (ISSN 2369-6885). Jacobsen works for science and human rights, especially women’s and children’s rights. He considers the modern scientific and technological world the foundation for the provision of the basics of human life throughout the world and the advancement of human rights as the universal movement among peoples everywhere.


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License and Copyright


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at and


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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