Losing Faith in Humanity


Taking a break from politics and policy here.

Many share the view that the arc of moral universe is long, but ultimately it bends to justice.

Perhaps, but does it bend towards morality?

I’ll return to this at the end of the post, but first some context.

I was nearly the victim of one of the most brazen scams I’ve encountered. My involvement, actually, was accidental. My 90 year-old father was the intended victim. 

Dad, who lives on the East Coast, received a call from his grandson, or so he thought. That was the brazen part. The scammers actually impersonated a relative in order to scam an elderly guy. From there, it went downhill. The scammer playing my son turned the phone over to his partner, who played the role of a public defender hired to represent my son, who purportedly had been in a serious car accident and charged with a DUI while traveling to a friend’s funeral. Bail money was needed because of the flight risk. And fast. A Moneygram was the recommended vehicle.

The scammers got both unlucky and lucky at that point. My father had been conned, but was snowbound and not able at his advanced age to act, so he called me with the “public defender’s” number. Coincidentally, I’d missed a call from my son, and now had my father telling me he’d spoken to him. This scam was never supposed to reach a guy in his 50’s, but the odd circumstances had my guard way down. My own father had just told me my son was injured and in jail.

Fortunately, I recovered the presence of mind to Google the scammer. When I couldn’t find an attorney in his supposed city with that name, I called my son, who was at his desk.

I felt like an idiot, and I sort of was an idiot.

But then I got angry.

What these scammers tried to do here and what they’ve undoubtedly succeeded in doing elsewhere represents an utter lack of morals. When a drug addict steals to feed his habit, I don’t condone it, but I get it. When a person acts violently while blinded by anger, I don’t condone it, but I get it.

These guys, however, very clearly had the minds, the energy, and the interpersonal skills to make money honestly. They tried to con my father because they wanted to, not because they had to. They’re in the same category as brilliant software programmers who invest their time in ransomware schemes.

I know that only a sliver of the population is this lacking in morality. But here’s the thing: This slice of the population I believe is no smaller than it ever has been. Perhaps its larger. Which means those who are morally deficient but just not to this degree also are not shrinking in number.

Okay, back to the moral universe.

The bottom line is that arc of the universe may bend towards justice. But it bends that way because of the bending in how society addresses immorality in its midst, not because of morality itself bends in any direction over time.

So, it’s the universe that bends towards justice.

The moral universe doesn’t bend at all.


  1. A very similar scam happened to a dear friend. The grandmother paid several thousand dollars to rescue the grandson.
    One of the side effects of sites like Facebook and other social media is that our lives are very open to strangers. Our inner sharings with family and friends makes for rich fodder for the criminally inclined.

    • I had the same thought when it happened. How hard would it be once someone had the name and number of an elderly person to put together a family profile?

  2. I am glad that you and your Father were not caught by the scam, Bob. These people know how to manipulate emotions over common sense and they do it all too frequently.

    • Thanks, Steve. I have a blind spot here. The mentality of scammers like this is just too foreign to me. I wish our society would punish this sort of behavior more, and things like drug possession and prostitution a lot less.

      BTW, glad to see you posting comments. It’s been awhile, and I remember a comment about you having an aggressive form of cancer, so I was concerned your absence from the site was a bad sign.

  3. This scam is a new common one. A friend of mine actually got to the point of trying to buy a prepurchased debit card in the amount specified but the manager of the Walgreen’s would not let her and told her it sounded like a scam. The manager called the police and my friend was put on with a nice deputy who explained it to her.

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