Chapter XX: Dopamine Games – Everybody’s Doing It

by Charles Lyell on July 2, 2014

When nice people do bad things

“Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.”  – Friedrich Nietzsche

Dopamine games are illogical, irrational, and dishonest strategies played to trigger dopamine and protect dopamine flow against threats posed by logic, reason, and honesty. Nice people play dopamine games to excuse bad behavior. Miscreants play to whitewash criminal acts and pass themselves off as nice. Examples include…

Everybody’s Doing It (EDI)

“Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity; and fashion will drive them to acquire any custom.” – George Bernard Shaw

EDI is a common dopamine game played to protect dopamine flow against moral and ethical implications that threaten acceptance, approval, and/or esteem. Everybody’s Doing It provides cowards with permission to do what they suspect might be wrong (or even reprehensible) by hiding behind a flimsy deception — that many wrongs somehow make a right. EDI helps politicians rationalize corruption, executives justify seducing and addicting children to junk foods and tobacco products, and cheaters convince themselves they aren’t really cheating.

EDI explains why litterbugs don’t litter in clean neighborhoods, sports figures use performance enhancing drugs, hypocrites lie about lying and stealing not making them liars or thieves, and swimmers pee in pools.

Repeating three empty words is all it takes for seemingly nice people to rationalize not-very-nice acts and the morally impaired to excuse corrupt, immoral, and shameful behavior.

If I Don’t Do It Someone Else Will (IIDDISEW)

IIDDISEW is a sleazy variation of Everyone’s Doing It that makes it possible for creeps to protect their esteem (and dopamine flow) with the deception that their abhorrent behavior doesn’t necessarily make them creeps. The goal is to deny any responsibility for the damage they cause by pretending that, since others would be doing the destroying anyway, they’re not culpable.

Clever gamesters trigger bonus dopamine squirts by inflating their esteem with the conceit that exploiting technicalities, loopholes, and opportunities somehow makes them canny, entrepreneurial, and even smart.

I No!

I No! is a favorite dopamine game with self-deceptive types desperate to avoid information that threatens dopamine flow. The key to playing I No! is to confuse homonyms “know” and “no.” For example, when a nicotine addict claims he knows cigarettes cause cancer, he’s actually playing “I no!”

In other words, he’s relying on a slight of mind that allows him to inflate his esteem / trigger dopamine by feigning knowledge while unconsciously protecting dopamine flow by denying, ignoring, and negating the information he’s giving himself credit for comprehending.

I No! is a favorite ploy of neurocritics who don’t want to know they don’t want to know how everything can be explained in terms of protecting and triggering dopamine flow.


To learn more about dopamine games, check out:

Dopamine Games: An Introduction

  • One-upmanship
  • I Don’t Play Games (IDPG)
  • That’s Ridiculous! (TR!)

How Dopamine Games Keep Neuroscientists From Learning About Dopamine

  • Look How Much I Already Know About Dopamine
  • That’s Interesting
  • I’m Tired of Hearing About Dopamine
  • How Dare You Insult Me!
  • Nitpicking
  • This Is Too Complicated
  • This Is Too Simplistic
  • Why Does It Matter?

 Dopamine Games: What Problems? What Disease? What Pandemic?

  • I Don’t Believe What You’re Saying Because I Don’t Want To Know
  • I’m an Optimist

Dopamine Games: Mentalbators, Mentalbating, and Mentalbation

  • Complaining
  • Scapegoating
  • Gossiping
  • Certainty
  • Notice Me
  • Denial

Dopamine Games: Straw Man Arguments


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