The Good Person Test: “Have you ever stolen anything, even something insignificant?”

This particular question is sometimes denied by the audience (seems that people don’t often steal things) but when it is answered, “Yes.” The next part of the script is to get them to answer what people who steal are called, and the answer is, “A thief.” To which the interviewer then claims that the audience has admitted to being a thief.

Sometimes if the interviewer cannot get a satisfactory answer out of the audience they attempt to conflate theft with goofing off at work or downloading music from the Internet. (Never let someone attempt to suggest that copyright infringement is theft: they’re wrong about the law and should educate themselves.) This behavior is common to the script of The Good Person Test, when it feels like it cannot stick someone with one of its pins it starts to play linguistic and semantic games.

Does taking a quarter from your sibling when you were six really make you a thief? This is a deliberate distortion that insinuates that a singleton act can condemn a person to a label that as a group we wouldn’t put on any individual unless they showed a pattern of theft. It then sociopathically conflates the entire spectrum of harm caused by theft from the most petty to the most damaging into the same moral exactitude. This is the same black and white thinking failure seen throughout the script.

Perhaps people just haven’t gotten it yet, but a person is not a thief if they take something once and then end up making recompense for it. Theft does actually cause damage. It’s illegal because it removes property from another person, it causes harm; the extent of that harm varies—and it varies widely. The moral nature of the theft is tied directly to the harm caused by the theft.

To ask someone: “have you ever stolen something, even something insignificant?” and then say, “If you have, you’re a thief!” is flippantly disrespectful of everyone listening because the script is going out of its way to ignore harm and then act like all theft is equal.

This is just another pale, transparent attempt to denigrate the audience without actual substance. It has little bearing on actual moral behavior and serves only to buttress the black and white, non-sequitur conclusions advocated by the script.

Next: “Have you ever looked at another person, who is not your spouse, with lust?”

Previous: “Have you ever told a lie, no matter how trivial?”

Index: The Good Person Test is immoral

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