Reverse homeless experiment in San Luis Obispo

February 20, 2015

Rich Ferguson conducted a social experiment in giving and human behavior in downtown San Luis Obispo. Interestingly, it seemed that those who had the least to give were the ones that gave, while the general public ignored the man’s attempts to communicate.

At the end of the day, the cash at hand was within 50 cents of what he started with.

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Give the bums money to buy booze and drugs…… ?? yeah sure…. cold day in heck!


That’s not an experiment that’s a sad joke. Giving money to beggars helps nobody. It just enables the drug users and alcoholics and mentally infirm and criminals and the grossly lazy.


Yeah you definitely wouldn’t want to enable the “mentally infirm.”


I think that was sarcasm but it is hard to tell.


No, it’s not.

The privileged are heartless and soul-less. They don’t know or accept sarcasm. They’re just un-human.


This was cool! And in my experience I have to agree with “Those with less tend to give more”. I grew up up north. A few times a year I would do a collection of food and blankets-jackets to bring to the shelter downtown S.J.. I found those who struggled more gave the best of what they had. Typical of wealthy households gave less, out dated canned food. Worn out blankets etc. I guess I can’t condemn anyone, because they did indeed give. But definitely a difference in attitude.


Better headline: “Stupid People Ignore Free Money’.


“those who had the least to give were the ones that gave while the general public ignored the man’s attempts to communicate”

I have to disagree with Mr. Ferguson, I consider myself part of the general public put when I checked my property tax bill and all the other things I pay that have a “Universal this or that fee”, it’s not that I ignore a person when panhandled on the street it is that I have already given and given and given and given and have no more to give. I have to wonder if Mr. Ferguson included that is his “social experiment in giving and human behavior”? I would think not.


Historically the poorest states in the country (ie the Deep South) have a much higher percentage of personal giving, meaning that what they give to charities is a higher percentage of their income than elsewhere.

Having said that I will give someone an apple but not $$ for drugs. End of story. And I quite agree with several of the posters here. I pay so much in taxes and fees to cover “poor” peoples’ heating bills, electric bills, school breakfasts and lunches, food stamps, welfare, subsidized housing, after-school daycare, health insurance, etc.that I find I am getting really tired of itall. I prefer to help someone I know who is having a hard time than donating to a huge charity where most of the money goes to overhead or to a homeless person I don’t know who came here specifically to take advantage of our handouts – free lunches, laundry services, etc.


Maybe you’re missing the problem though. It’s not your fault, because you have given all you can. And they are no better off, because in between you and those who need lies the grabbiest middleman of all, the government.


The funny thing is that it is only a relatively small portion of those fees and taxes you pay that go to the needy. You should really start to recover that wasted money by telling the government to stop subsidizing businesses — particularly ones that are not making a positive contribution to the national economy or that are greatly overcharging for what they do. The financial industry (particularly hedge funds and other Wall St. gamblers) and the defense industry currently top that list.


“telling the government to stop subsidizing businesses — particularly ones that are not making a positive contribution to the national economy”

but what do we do when the government itself is the biggest business not making a positive contribution? ask them to change, not likely going to listen, vote different ones in, easier said than done.

You have an answer?


I love CCN for the news it breaks. However, I wish there was someone that proofreads and edits things before they are posted. In this case there are only 3 sentences written, however there is a blatant grammatical error. Personally, I find the errors distracting from the story being told. (sorry just had to say it finally!)


Try offering them work. The homeless will refuse it every time.

miles archer

Your blanket statement is false…and is an example of the misunderstanding in our county when it comes to the homeless.

Those who have CHOSEN their life on the street will probably refuse work.

Those who are homeless by no fault of their own is a different matter entirely.

We have to stop lumping everyone together under the guise of “homeless”. Many are just bums of course…and many are hard-working people who have fallen on hard times.


You are correct. Unfortunately, most of the ones begging on the downtown streets are the bums. The ones that are in that condition due to misfortune are less likely to beg and more likely to look for help through charitable organizations. A fair number of those homeless due to misfortune are that way because of severe disabilities which limit or prevent them from most work anyway.

I had a guy begging me for work outside Home Depot a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t get his tale of problems but he said that he had been working all his life until just a few months ago and was having trouble finding enough work to get by. I referred him to the programs run out of the Prado Day Center as I had nothing I could offer in the way of work for reasons of liability.


Homeless through no fault of their own is a pretty ridiculous statement. In order to be homeless and living on the streets there had to be some choices made that were bad enough to alienate the person from every person who has ever cared for them

Pregnant teen? no fault of their own?

Runaway? No fault of their own?

Irresponsible? No fault of thei own?

No education? No fault of their own?

Drugs and alcohol? No fault of their own?

Wake up and smell the coffee mrs. Beuller.


No fault of their own:

Foster kid turns 18…

Undiagnosed mental illness

55 year old worn out labor

Injured on the job. Denied workman’s comp.

Domestic Violence Victim

Displaced worker,

Injured worker TRYING to apply for Social Security NO INCOME

Pregnant woman, mother left by husband

Newly discovered disease, cancer, diabetes,

Head injuries

Not everyone starts out with relatives. No all ‘ bums’ are at fault.


I wouldn’t refer to the situation as an experiment in giving or taking. The situation shows that people are conditioned to ignore bums on the sidewalk including not making eye contact with them, or reading their signs.

Maybe if there wasn’t a bum every 1/2 block with their hands out, people would have payed more attention to a free hand-out.


“paid” rather