Rewards are more predictable than punishment when it comes to controlling behaviour. Almost the whole world knows it these days, because the whole world is addicted to rewards in one way or another. We have evolved into consumers.
It was no great surprise either. Consumer society is self-rewarding and nobody is about to get in its way, not with tens of trillions of dollars per annum of consumer spending at stake. From central heating to holidays in the sun, from the next iCrap gadget to a two thousand calories pizza and a gallon of beer every Friday night, there is no going back.
Back to where? Maybe a certain puritanical yearning might stem the tide, but even that seems more likely to result in the consumption of goods and services with puritanical branding. Solar panels, electric cars, curly light bulbs, recycling and Greenpeace memberships are merely grist to the consumer mill.
Not only that, but we can add righteousness to the rewards list too. Environmental goody-goodies can’t be wrong. Has to be rewarding.
Politically correct prigs who can’t be wrong either. Oh it’s all so rewarding isn’t it? We’re addicted to it as deeply and as irrevocably as any crackhead.
Oh and blanket caring as in Children in Need type caring – mustn’t forget that. We’ll add that to the list because it’s another form of consumption - caring can be something we buy.
It’s not merely a matter of gargantuan consumer spending. This is far and away the most humongous force affecting human behaviour ever seen. Nobody is running it either. That’s the entertaining part because Guardian readers and BBC types hate that.
So what about the future? Where is this gargantuan deluge of addictive rewards likely to take us?
Well the addicted consumer has already seen off Christianity, common sense and rational politics so in a broad sense there isn’t much territory left to conquer. Islam will succumb within a generation and beyond that is anyone’s guess and...
...and that’s enough of that...
...clicks over to Amazon.