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4 Scientific Reasons Doing the Wrong Thing Feels So Good

Just to make sure we get off on the right foot here, I should probably point out that being a dick is bad. I've been around the Internet too long to know that some people will read that title, skim the points, and use it as justification for being a throbbing cock shaft. That being said, some stuff that society has labeled "evil" can have surprising upsides if viewed through the right camera lens. For instance ...

#4. Lying Can Make You Feel Great (If No One Gets Hurt)

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Honesty is the bedrock that all other morality is built upon. A huge reason we elected George Washington president was because, as a kid, he couldn't tell a lie. When Superman is blabbing about what he stands for, notice that he puts truth before both justice and the entire American way. When English romantic Poet John Keats was trying to find something to compare to beauty, all he could come up with was truth. Right? English poetry is throwing a shout-out to honesty -- it doesn't get more authoritative and street than that.

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Old English poetry drive-by. Shooting truth at sheeple!

The Terrible Truth:

Lying actually feels great, and while we're on the subject, I should probably point out that Keats was being sarcastic with his whole truth = beauty thing. Sorry I misled you there. That's the problem with English poets. They are dirty, lying pieces of shit.

"But wait," you say through your fake gold teeth (I picture you all as rappers from 2010), "I lied once, and after my friends found out, they were really sad. I felt awful!" That's because lying only gets you that extra boost of feel-goodery if you don't actually hurt anyone. Turns out we're pretty empathetic creatures: If our lies directly fuck someone over, we feel bad.

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"Why did I tell him his mom died? That was just pointless and wrong."

This makes a ton of sense to me because (and this next part is just the speculation of an Internet comedy writer -- there's no science to back it up) we encounter a ton of absolutely pointless bullshit in our day-to-day lives. Lying to save time and effort on those arbitrary hurdles feels good, just knowing that we avoided the ensuing rage-headache. Yes, I read and understand the terms of service. No, I didn't blow through that asshole red light at 3 a.m. in totally nonexistent traffic.

All those general rules exist, in theory, for good reasons, but only about 99 percent of the time. When we're in that 1 percent and manage to tap dance our way around those rules without getting caught, we get to feel smarter than the people in charge. And you know who else tap dances his way around the rules without getting caught? Fucking Batman. In that moment, we are Batman.

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We could probably use a little work on the outfits, though.

#3. Gossip Makes You Better at Socializing

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Don't you love it when people talk shit about you behind your back? Of course not, because that kind of thing is awful enough to have entire movies made about it. It betrays the trust of the person being talked about, but aside from that, it's just tasteless: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all ...

The Terrible Truth:

... is what a didactic Saturday morning children's program might insist. But in reality, gossiping about your peers is essential "for a real understanding of our social environment." Ha! Kids' shows are dumb!

Adam Taylor/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Look at those idiots. They can't even dress themselves properly.

Despite what high-and-mighty attitudes you may have about how friend-groups should work, at the end of the day there's a reason it feels so good to talk about people when they're not around: It allows us to compare our lives to theirs, and since gossip generally focuses on the bad, the game is rigged for us to come out on top. That's great not only for our self-esteem, but for our social development and understanding of social cues. To use an example from my life, when I found out that Rogath the Bloodener had broken up with QuadBoner6969 (all my closest friends are characters in a Diablo III fan fiction I'm writing), it made me feel better, because if Rogath hasn't settled down yet, maybe it's not so bad that my recent love life has been nothing but constant, meaningless sex with a slew of incredibly attractive people of every ethnicity, gender identity, and character class you can imagine.

Again, I'm not saying that talking shit about people all the time is a good idea. If you become that guy, everyone will get sick of you real fast. But beyond the psychological benefits just explained, indulging a little bit can actually be a great way to keep track of how all your friends are doing ("Rogath sold all his Legendary weapons? That's not a good sign, I should call him") and can actually help build a relationship. The fact that they've chosen to share sensitive information deepens bonds of trust, while refusing to gossip can be perceived as a sign that you're an outsider or just don't belong (much like Jagoff Frostblade Sragnet, a loner with a heart of gold, lusted after by all women and revered by his fellow warriors).

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Master of all weaponry ... including his heart.

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J.F. Sargent

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