Selfish Genes and Shafting Shareholders

March 2, 2010

Has anybody made the connection between genes and the principal-agent problem? Richard Dawkins wrote a whole book about how we are but machines to reproduce genes, and in Genome, Matt Ridley quotes Bill Hamilton saying that the genome is like “a company boardroom”. But I haven’t ever seen the analogy being made explicit, so I’ll go ahead and do it right now.

The way to think of your genes is as principals, and yourself as the agent. Their objective is to make copies of themselves. To accomplish this, they create you as a vehicle to make more of themselves. So far, the analogy is genes=shareholders, you=management, and genes increasing their presence=return on investment.

What’s missing? Incentive alignment! In the corporate world, this is done through executive compensation, and will theoretically work best with stock options. How do our genes make sure that we’re keen and eager to achieve their objectives? A whole bunch of things that make the process of gene propagation enjoyable – making sex fun, making babies look cute, so on and so forth.

So when Skimpy goes on and on about finding a long-term gene-propagating partner, he’s putting the cart before the horse. It is not the end-result of our genes getting propagated, but the actions we take to do so that make us happy1. The purpose of sex is not to have babies, but to have orgasms2. So when you have the orgasms without the babies, you get to act like the CEOs who give themselves executive jets while shafting the shareholders and driving down the share price. It’s an awesome life.

You might feel a sense of responsibility, and be tempted to propagate your genes keeping in mind all that they have done for you. Resist the temptation! Whatever they have done is for their selfish ends. The fact is, your genes are bastards. They don’t care about you. Some of them are actively trying to make you suffer a painful and agonising death. Yet others are trying to make other people suffer painful and agonising deaths, and as such are responsible for the ills of society. So if the selfish little buggers are too stupid to align incentives properly and they make it possible for you to get the benefits without delivering results – for example, by having sex with contraceptives, cooing over other peoples babies, or even puppies instead of babies – then they’re only getting what they deserve. Go ahead and behave like a 1980s American conglomerate vice-president – you know you want to.

1: This is remarkably Bhagavad-Gita-ish. Honestly, you could see the Bhagavad Gita too as an exploration of the principal-agent problem, with Krishna as the principal and Arjun as the agent. After trying to align incentives for seventeen chapters, Krishna finally reveals his vishwaroopam and tells Arjun clearly who the principal is, who the agent is, what the objective is, and that Arjun had better get cracking. You know, I should get down to reading Gurcharan Das’s The Difficulty of Being Good.

2: Or as Laurensolivius would put it: “Orgasms! Orgasms! We want orgasms!”

The Jagadguru as Agony Aunt II

January 25, 2008

In his continuing efforts to solve the problems of His devotees, the Jagadguru presents the second instalment of his irregularly published column – Dear Jagadguru: Krish on Love, Sex, and Home Appliances. We would like to remind all His devoted readers that they can gain His darshan by emailing their problems to dearjagadguru AT aadisht DOT net.


Respectful Jagadguru,

Forgive me for my gall in asking this question. Your wisdom is boundless but I see you have restricted your advice to only Love, Sex, and Home Appliances. I understand Love and to an extent, home appliances. But why Sex, it arises out of carnal impulses and is sinful. Or is it part of your deeper Maya that ordinary mortals like me cannot fathom? Please enlighten your devotee.

At your Holy Feet

Dear MMM,

If you cannot understand this it is because you have been fooled by the crap of free-market fundamentalists. These right-wing fools can only see things in black and white and can’t understand that Love and Sex are the same thing. As for carnal impulses well I have already explained it clearly that this is all part of human biology. As I have said an ideal society is one which will be based on biology-driven humanism. Writing about sex is only helping the biology-driven humans.

Good night and good luck!



Dear Jagadguru,

Why have you adopted the title given to you by those lousy right-wing fundamental capitalists? Why have you changed your website from to Isn’t buying lot of domain name falling for corporate conspiracy to make money off people?

Your chela,
Arthur Dent

Dear Arthur Dent,

how do you bullshit with a straight face?

Goodnight and good luck!!!!



Dear Jagadguru,

You give advice on so many things. Like love, home appliances, sex etc. you have impacted me Very Much. I want ur advice that is why. I have problem relating to all these fields you are expert of.

Some years I have been happily married. I have very loving relationship with my caring godfearing husband. But only in one aspect he is lacking. He is not being able to satisfy fully my sexual hunger.

I cannot tell anyone this because in Indian culture manhood is very important, and I do not want our friends to think that my husband is eunuch.

This is giving rise to very uncommon situation. I am working everyday in the house (I am not maidservant, I am only taking care of our family house). One day, after my husband went to work in the morning, I was feeling very tired, and resting my backside on the washing machine. Then I felt the vibration from the machine giving pleasurable sensation to my buttocks like how the sensation feels when my husband is thrusting and planting his seed in me. Only, my husband finishes all this very quickly, and washing machine being on for 15-20 minutes, it is very exciting. Nowadays, I am feeling very attracted. I am sitting on it as soon as my husband is leaving for work and getting lot of satisfaction.

But this guilty pleasure is making me feel very sinful. It will be very hurtful for my husband if he is coming to know that washing machine is causing more satisfaction. Please help, Jagadguru.

Thanking you


Dear SDG,

In my perfect society people will use reason over emotions in solving their problems. So there is no need to get guilty about your washing machine. It only shows that women should be the most against religious crap. In fact it is the religious fundamentalism which has led to you feeling guilty.

If your husband cannot give you pleasure, it is because he has a biological defect. Huh well this is not unlike the biological defect which most right wingers have. But at the same time you should use dryers rather than washing machine. This is because of the inherent dumbness of the trickle down theory.

Good night and good luck!!!!!



Dear Jagadguru,

My girlfriend and me like to bite each others’ necks when we are together. Although it is very pleasurable it eventually leads to bruises developing and this is very embarrassing when my family members notice. What is the way out?

Your devoted worshiper,


Dear MMA,

Shameful. This kind of violent acts has no place in a civilised society. I don’t understand how you call yourself educated if you like biting. This kinda atrocity of biting and eating each other will lead to a cannibal society. I don’t see this is any different from you and Modi and bin Laden. Here is an offer. You can send your degree to me and I will burn it for free.

Good night and good luck!!!!!!!!!!



Once again, we would like to remind our readers that they can send their problems in to dearjagadguru AT aadisht DOT net.