Hypothetical - Visible Morality

So it appears that God or some other similar entity has had enough of humanity messing around and has decided to change things a bit. From this day forward every person on earth over the age of 16 has a visible external indication of their internal self, displaying whether they are a good or bad person.

‘Good’ people have a classic halo floating above their head* and ‘bad’ people have a set of devil-like horns.

The halo is not a physical entity and cannot be manipulated, the horns can be cut off but grow back almost immediately. Depending on how virtuous a person is the halo glows brighter or dimmer, but is always painless to look at, a malign persons horns also grow longer, thicker, and more obvious.

A person can change from one to the other but its a slow and rare process and again easily to discern. A few people seem to have no external signs but this is very rare and seems to suggest they are truly neutral in behaviour and outlook.

How would society change if a persons inner self was so easily visible to others? I imagine there would be a lot of experimenting and debates on what constitutes virtuous behavior and beliefs and their opposites.

Politics would also become a lot more interesting, or at least different.

*something like this https://thumb7.shutterstock.com/display_pic_with_logo/461077/238489021/stock-photo-young-saint-businessman-with-halo-above-head-238489021.jpg

Has somebody been playing Fable?

Society would stratify along moral lines - halo’d people would naturally distrust horned people, and horned people would naturally fear disenfranchisement and oppression by halo’d people. So what happens next depends on whether the bulk of the populace is moral or not. If most are moral then the most moral politicians will be elected; if most are immoral then only the most immoral politicians will be considered acceptable.

Courts would be rife with bias and horned people would constantly be falsely accused - unless most of the populace are immoral, at which point they’d be more inclined to assume that horns aren’t indicative of guilt. This is presuming that horns are allowed on the jury at all - though the horned party would scream bias if they weren’t represented.

Existing politicians would likely all turn out to be immoral, and some of them would embrace this and go off the rails before they could be replaced.
It also occurs to me to wonder, would observing that somebody has horns and prejudging them based on that be considered immoral?

Except that to lodge a false accusation is immoral…so the person who did that would immediately grow a pair of horns, and the accusation would be viewed with grave suspicion.

(If the moral status is based on a long-term average, then you’d find some “good” people testing the limits, seeing how much bad they can do before their status swaps. In that case, a “good” person could hurl a few false accusations without popping up horns.)

I do agree there would be awful bias. A horned person’s testimony might very well be viewed with suspicion by a jury. Horned people would be victims of a lot of “vigilante justice” too. Like being on the sex-offender registry.

A lot of people would be very surprised at others and themselves. No group would predominate, including political, religious, racial, or economic groups.

I would expect that eventually courtrooms would be configured so that people testifying would be concealed to prevent bias based on whether they have horns or halos. Also, would the presence of horns be grounds for dismissal from jury duty?

Another question, at what point in a persons life do the horns/halo manifest?

I’ve heard of the game but never played it :slight_smile:

Its based on a long term average, so for a good person who begins making a series of suspect decisions their halo would gradually lose its luster before disappearing altogether and a set of horns would begin to grow, and vice versa. Though I imagine for a really egregiously evil or heroic action the transformation would be pretty much instant.

What about society splitting into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’?

At age 16, its in the OP :wink:

Thanks for the answers everyone!

Who decides what is good and what is evil? Whose definition of morality would be used?

I suspect that almost immediately the Southern churches would declare the horns and halos to be a deception of the devil rather than a truth from God. If every preacher in town suddenly sprouts horns, they are going to fight hard and back each other up to protect the power they wield in society.

Up north, I would expect the Catholic church especially to be inundated with demands for assignments which would “flip” a person’s status. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity would be drowning in volunteers who want to figure out how little they can do and still get “points.” Powerful criminals and ruthless CEOs would justify their status as a sacrifice they make for their organizations. It would be very difficult for a halo to impress Venture Capitalists as being serious enough about profits to earn an investment.

Psychopaths would be extremely confused by the rules, having no internal compass to help them navigate this judgement system. A lot of classes and training programs would crop up and become very good profit centers. Teachers of these classes would have to cycle through quickly as they grew horns for exploiting people’s desire to be good.

We would finally find out whether “sin-eater” is a valuable profession. If so, it would become a huge money-maker.

Yeah, there probably would be a large social division.

It also occurs to me that “bad” people would work really, really hard to re-define their status. “I"m not bad; that’s just an artificial social distinction.” They’d sneer at “good” people as “namby-pamby knee-jerk fee-good liberals” and fight as hard as they could to undermine the new moral definition.

Too many possibilities. It might be a divine miracle, ordained by a God of some sort, in which case, who knows? Eating pork might get you horns, whereas putting a heretic to torture might get you a halo.

It’d be nicer if it were based on a more universal consensus of good and evil, largely surrounding “being kind.” People who lie, cheat, steal, hit, hurt, and slander would be marked for it, and people who build, teach, comfort, and heal would earn a visible reward.

This is already somewhat true in our society: bad people get identified by social comment. (Gossip.)