It was a very crowded field of excellent nominees for this year’s Al Copeland Humanitarian Award. In total there were 8 nominees (two of whom shared the honor): Leo Moracchioli, Richard Garfield, Elizabeth Vandiver, Eric Lundgren, Adam Butler and Autumn Thomasson, George Henry Thomas, and Joy Morton.
Of all of these worthy individuals, Joy Morton best exemplifies the way in which Al Copeland improved the human condition. Morton, like Copeland, promoted good by doing well. As Collin noted in his post, Morton sought a competitive advantage for his salt company by adding iodine and advertising the health benefits of doing so. It was known at the time that small amounts of iodine could prevent goiters, which were a widespread and damaging problem throughout America’s heartland. But no one was doing anything about this until Morton saw a way to make money from adding iodine to people’s diet.
It was later learned that iodine is crucial to healthy brain development. By adding iodine to salt, Morton reduced cognitive disabilities among those with the lowest access to iodine in their diet, raising IQs by one full standard deviation in that population. Collin emphasized how much good Morton achieved through his profit-seeking enterprise relative to what has been achieved by billions in non-profit expenditures:
One. Standard. Deviation. Countless foundations have invested countless dollars to achieve impacts a fraction of that size in [a] tiny fraction of the population – and most have failed. Morton accomplished it all with table salt.
Al Copeland similarly improved the human condition through a profit-seeking enterprise. Rather than prevent goiters and raise IQs, Copeland satisfied our desire for spicy chicken. And both efforts have in common a significant reliance on salt.
Leo Moracchioli shares with Morton and Copeland the fact that he makes money from his humanitarian activities. Making heavy metal covers on Youtube brings plenty of joy to his followers as well as money to his pocket. And Matt was right to note the importance of “disintermediation” in producing this and other positive developments. But it is hard for fun music to compare with preventing goiters and raising IQs let alone to providing spicy chicken.
Ben Ladner’s personal and well-written nomination of Magic: The Gathering’s creator, Richard Garfield was also compelling. But like my previous nomination of D&D promoter, Gary Gygax, Garfield falls short. As much as I identify with and root for the Geek tribe, their amusement and acts of solidarity do not rise to the level of improving the human condition like spicy chicken does.
My nomination of Elizabeth Vandiver also falls short. Promoting awareness of human nature through understanding of Classical Mythology is enormously important work, but Vandiver reaches too few people to make enough of a difference. If only our schools thought this was an important part of their job and made use of Vandiver’s materials, it might be a different story.
Greg had several nominees. We may have to consider a rule regarding whether an individual can have multiple nominees in a single year and whether multiple people can share a nomination. In any event, Greg’s nomination of Eric Lundgren was excellent but it felt more like a Higgy nomination for Bill Gates. Making use of old computer parts is indeed noble, but the way Microsoft sought to block it shows that profit-seeking enterprises can also promote bad while doing well. The nomination of Adam Butler and Autumn Thomasson for providing legal assistance to lemonade stands while also making a profit selling lemonade also sounds like a Higgy nomination for the PLDDs who seek to shut those stands down. Lastly, George Henry Thomas is also a very worthy nominee for his demonstration of true patriotism and understanding that victory can only be achieved when one’s opponent admits defeat. Thomas’ example is actually in keeping with Daniel Pipes’ more recent promotion of the Israel Victory Project. While victory can only be achieved by the admission of defeat by one’s opponent, Thomas actually failed at achieving that, as Greg concedes. Some Southerners continue “The Cause” to this day, so it is now our responsibility to complete what Thomas started.
Fortunately, because we are goiter-free and enjoy elevated IQs we are now positioned to pursue the total defeat of The Cause, rocking on YouTube, playing games with other Geeks, understanding human nature, and fighting PLDDers of all sorts. For this we owe a debt of gratitude to Joy Morton and award him the 2018 Al Copleand Humanitarian Award.