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Biotech Science

Magnetism Can Sway Man's Moral Compass 586

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the so-can-hot-chicks dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Discovery News reports that scientists have identified a region of the brain which appears to control morality and discovered that a powerful magnetic field can scramble the moral center of the brain, impairing volunteers' notion of right and wrong. 'You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior,' says Liane Young, a scientist at MIT and co-author of the article. 'To be able to apply (a magnetic field) to a specific brain region and change people's moral judgments is really astonishing.' Young and her colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging to locate an area of the brain just above and behind the right ear known as the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ), which other studies had previously related to moral judgments. Volunteers were exposed to transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for 25 minutes before reading stories involving morally questionable characters, and being asked to judge their actions. The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm — not whether they were morally wrong in themselves. The scientists didn't permanently remove the subjects' moral sensibilities and on the scientists' seven point scale, the difference was about one point, averaging out to about a 15 percent change, 'but it's still striking to see such a change in such high level behavior as moral decision-making.' Young points out that the study was correlation; their work only links the RTJP, morality, and magnetic fields, but doesn't definitively prove that one causes another."
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Magnetism Can Sway Man's Moral Compass

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  • How long until this is used as a defense in court?
    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:12PM (#31675480) Journal
      I'm guessing that the "Your Honor, I had a giant morals-scrambling magnet pressed against my head at the time" defense should be pretty easy to confirm or deny...

      Now, as for the broader use, yeah, this research does indeed suggest that, for instance, somebody with a tumor or lesion in the area that the researchers were scrambling might well be "insane" in the sense of having impaired moral cognition, without overt psychosis or anything similarly dramatic. That isn't really "abuse" though. That's an enhancement of our understanding how how the brain works.

      However, I'm not sure that the "Yup, I have a permanently defective capacity for moral cognition" defense would be something that you would pursue unless you, in fact, do. Indefinite commitment to a secure psychiatric facility isn't exactly a walk in the park, even compared to prison.
      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:20PM (#31675614) Journal

        >>> "Your Honor, I had a giant morals-scrambling magnet pressed against my head at the time"

        That's what she said.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cmiller173 (641510)

          >>> "Your Honor, I had a giant morals-scrambling magnet pressed against my head at the time"

          That's what she said.

          No, She said "Your Honor, he had a giant morals-scrambling magnet pressed against my head at the time"

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jeffmeden (135043)

        It's important to note that the research focused on moral judgements about the *intentions* of actions, not on the actions and outcomes themselves. So, a person with a disrupted brain might not see a problem with wanting to steal a car, but they can still fully grasp the weight of actually stealing the car. Since moral judgement is lost on some people anyway, the normal effects of punishment should still be as effective, with or without disruption via magnetic field. Ergo, using this as a defense is abou

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BattleApple (956701)
        Well, you see judge, I was really busy that day and I had to sign the contract while I was getting an MRI of my head.
    • by Dynedain (141758)

      My guess is shortly after it shows up on House M.D. [wikipedia.org]

    • Very useful feature that.
       

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by radtea (464814)

        Very useful feature that

        What, a 15% increase in focus on actual outcomes rather imputed intent based on extremely abstract (and in fact utterly impossible) hypothetical situations? What would that be useful for, exactly?

        The questions the ask are full of magical reasoning: someone walks over a bridge you "know to be unsafe". What on earth does "unsafe" mean in this context and with what degree of certainty to you "know" it to be so? Does "unsafe" mean "everyone who walks over the bridge will die? Apparently not, because the ma

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by goodmanj (234846)

          What, a 15% increase in focus on actual outcomes rather imputed intent based on extremely abstract (and in fact utterly impossible) hypothetical situations? What would that be useful for, exactly?

          Hand out "end justify the means" helmets to all of the soldiers you command, and you'll get less backtalk and desertion when it comes time to burn villages, rape children, and gun down peaceful protesters for the glory of the republic.

    • Legitimately? Many decades. This research shows that there indeed is some sort of modular physiological aspect to our conception of morality. But beyond that, it tells us almost nothing about how it might affect behavior in a legal sense. In the future this kind of research will require a fundamental change in our judicial system, but not yet. Now if we are talking about quack defenses, I bet someone has already tried it. Sadly the lack of scientific knowledge in jurors and judges makes it such that they a
    • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:32PM (#31675826) Homepage Journal

      It doesn't sound like a sound defense. Moral judgements have nothing to do with legality; there's nothing immoral about smoking pot, for example. Whether you're talking about Druids, Christians, Jews, Hindus, any religion, none have any injunction against smoking pot. Smoking pot harms no one. The marijuana laws were passed by lies (see the propaganda movie "Reefer Madness"). Laws are subjective; they are NOT based on morality. Adultery is immoral (and harmful), yet there's no law against it in my state.

      What confuses me, (and I RTFA just because it did confuse me, and TFA gave no answer) is what kinds of moral delimmas did they present?

      The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm -- not whether they were morally wrong in themselves.

      I can't think of anything that's morally wrong that doesn't cause harm. Did I read the wrong FA?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Nadaka (224565)

        Hemp was used around the world as a strong and durably fiber in rope and fabric. It grew wild in most of the US. DOW chemicals invents and patents nylon. Within a few short years, marijuana was illegal and half the US covered with herbicide to to stamp out this "terrible weed". The war on drugs was a fabrication designed for the profit of a single powerful company.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vlm (69642)

        I can't think of anything that's morally wrong that doesn't cause harm.

        Cheat in a game of Solitaire? Its "wrong" to cheat, but nothing bad could possibly happen as a result?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jeffmeden (135043)

        Smoking pot harms no one... Adultery is immoral (and harmful)...

        Thank you for neatly disproving your own argument. Both of these things are pure opinion, it is trivial to argue both in either direction.

        And, fwiw, the moral dilemmas they posed were of the lines of "sally and alice are at a chemical plant. alice gives sally a cup of coffee and in it she puts what she thinks is sugar but it's really poison. was alice wrong in giving the coffee to sally?" vs "sally and alice are at a chemical plant. alice gives sally a cup of coffee and also adds some poison to it whil

  • Degausser (Score:4, Funny)

    by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:03PM (#31675314) Journal

    Wow...all those years of double daring my data center colleagues to put the hand electric de-gausser to their forehead and turn it on for 30 seconds might have more of an effect than I anticipated.....

  • volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm -- not whether they were morally wrong in themselves

    Short of a Doctorate of Philosophy in Ethics, what's the difference?

    • Re:The difference? (Score:5, Informative)

      by khallow (566160) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:09PM (#31675418)
      A lot of activities and mental states which do not harm people are considered morally wrong. For example, homosexuality, coveting and envy, pride, "thoughtcrime" in the novel, 1984, etc.
      • I argue that if nobody is harmed, it's not immoral. Stupid perhaps (like eating cyanide), but not immoral.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          ... and your argument would be wrong (no offense). Imagine a friend who is about to be killed. You could kill the would be killer and save your friend or you could let the scenario unfold naturally. Either choice causes harm by either allowing the death of a friend or causing the death of the killer. Even solid consequentionalists like Mill argued that when given a choice between actions, the moral road is not merely to minimize suffering but also to maximize happiness. Given for any choice that an act

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by WNight (23683)

        So they've invented an irrationality filter?

      • Re:The difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:57PM (#31676246)

        Except that isn't the difference they are referring to.

        They are referring to the following cases:

        1. Driving recklessly outside a school at dismissal time, but not hitting anyone.

        2. Driving recklessly outside a school at dismissal time, and hitting someone.

        Most people (though not all...) would consider both cases morally equivalent. It's not the hitting someone that is the immoral action, it's the placing them in danger in the first place.

    • by spun (1352) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `yranoituloverevol'> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#31675448) Journal

      The difference between 'likely to cause harm' and 'did cause harm.' In one question, they asked if it was morally wrong to let your girlfriend walk across a bridge you knew was dangerous, even if she made it to the other side safely. Magnetized folks thought, 'well she made it across, it's morally okay' while other people were more likely to think it was wrong even if she was unharmed this particular time.

      • by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:48PM (#31676080)
        I wonder if that really means morality was affected, rather than abstract thought. At various stages of childhood brain development, it's difficult to imagine hypotheticals. Perhaps the part of their brain that envisions "could have beens" was disrupted, so they thought "she made it across safely, therefore that's the only possible result."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Culture20 (968837)
          So conduct the exact same experiment with different questions like non-moral financial "could have beens".
          "Fred invested all of his money into one stock and got 100% return. Bill invested gradually with dollar cost averaging using a fixed percentage of income and got a 35% return. Whose strategy is more sound?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        The BBC article seems to characterize these test subjects as unable to correctly assess risk.

        That's cognitively quite different from assessing risk but not caring. On the basis of what's been presented here, I don't see any data which support the claim that moral reasoning is diminished in these subjects.

        It turns out that the problem is not in the research, but in oversimplification by the news media. If you want a more accurate idea of what's going on, take a look at the original papers by Young et [mit.edu]
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by spun (1352)

          The BBC article seems to characterize these test subjects as unable to correctly assess risk.

          That's cognitively quite different from assessing risk but not caring. On the basis of what's been presented here, I don't see any data which support the claim that moral reasoning is diminished in these subjects.

          It turns out that the problem is not in the research, but in oversimplification by the news media. If you want a more accurate idea of what's going on, take a look at the original papers by Young et al [mit.edu]. For example:

          Participants even judged attempted harms
          (e.g., attempting, but failing to poison someone) as more permissible than accidental harms (e.g.,
          accidentally poisoning someone).

          In that example, risk is quite accurately assessed. In the first case, no one was harmed, thus, no risk. In the second case, accidental though it was, someone was harmed and there was obviously risk.

          I'd call that a failure of moral reasoning. Young even uses the phrase 'moral reasoning' multiple times for names of his papers, on the very page you link to.

    • by DdJ (10790)

      Sometimes, the difference is simply luck.

      You have two snipers. Both intend to shoot blameless strangers in a parking lot. One is very good and hits their target. The other is inept and misses.

      Are they both morally wrong?

      Apparently, if I understand the assertion, folks without the magnetic manipulation would consider both "wrong". But folks who have had the magnetic treatment would have increased odds of judging the inept sniper to be blameless, since no actually harm occurred.

  • So... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:08PM (#31675396)

    So it isn't just a bad cliche when in the movies the bad guys always run a car salvage/crushing yard with the big electromagnet cranes.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:08PM (#31675398) Homepage Journal

    The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm — not whether they were morally wrong in themselves.

    What distinction are they making between the two? There are philosophies that would hold the two ideas as identical.

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      There are philosophies that would hold the two ideas as identical.

      So, people who held such a view might analyze the situation the same way, regardless of the applied magnetic effects.

      Ah, control groups. So useful.

    • by adonoman (624929)

      There are philosophies that would hold the two ideas as identical.

      But those philosophies are only held by people with too much magnetic stimulation.
      I am a bit confused about his correlation disclaimer. Is he saying it's possible that people who had the less judgmental morality caused the magnetism? Or that some external factor caused them to become more judgmental and more likely to get their brains magnetized? It seems to me that unless they were lazy and didn't do any proper controls (which would be trivial in this case - just don't turn on the machine), that appl

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Carewolf (581105)

        Of course morality causes magnetism. I know for a fact strong moralism repels me!

    • by SOdhner (1619761)
      Short answer is that they are less likely to try and take intentions into account. If you don't warn someone that the door they're about to open is booby-trapped but then the bomb is a dud... well, no harm no foul. Whereas without the scrambling we would still say it is wrong to not warn someone about that whole immenant death thing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The particular example I heard was: a person pours a cup of coffee for their friend, but puts some powder in it before serving. Here are two scenarios:

      1) The person believed the powder was poison and intended to poison their friend, but it turned out to be sugar and no harm was done, or
      2) The person believed the powder was sugar and intended no harm, but it turned out to be poison and the friend was made sick.

      Many people would agree that the action in the first case is immoral, despite the fact that no harm

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by myowntrueself (607117)

      No action is morally wrong (or right) in and of itself.

      That is just absurd.

      Actions are not, cannot be, moral nor immoral without a subjective interpretation. There simply is no objective standard of morality.

      Article is a dud on morality; its human perception or consciousness which is being altered.

      A human may have a subjective notion that some act is immoral 'in itself' and this subjective notion is a false representation of reality.

      What this magnetic field seems to do is to restore a more accurate appraisa

    • by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:36PM (#31675876) Journal

      Person A accidentally breaks five tea cups while cleaning. Person B purposefully breaks one tea cup.

      Most people would say that B's actions were "more wrong" than A's.
      People who had their RTPJ disrupted said that A was "more wrong" because of the extent of the damage.

      Another example they gave was that people with their RTPJ disrupted would say that accidentally poisoning someone was worse than attempting to poison someone and failing.

  • More fascinating, at least to me, is the area of the brain that works against "ends justify the means".

    FTS:

    The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm — not whether they were morally wrong in themselves.

    I don't know if this has been known before, but the fact that there's an area of the brain that judges actions as moral apart from their consequences is fascinating. It makes sense to judge actions based on known outcomes, but what's the evolutionary advantage to being moral in the abstract?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      but what's the evolutionary advantage to being moral in the abstract?

      You have a better chance of getting laid by the bimbos in Philosophy 101?

      • Well obviously. I took that as a given.

        But besides that, presumably we had this moral center before we had Philosophy 101.

  • Ummm, sample size? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by musicalmicah (1532521) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:09PM (#31675414)
    A one-point difference on a seven-point scale among only twenty volunteers? Doesn't smell very solid to me.
  • Mu-metal is the new preferred material for protective headwear.

  • Military use, ahoy! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I see a future where they'll have strong electromagnets embedded in military helmets, to ease everyone through the more morally dubious adventures overseas. Of course, in order to invent the helmet, you'd have to be already morally compromised, which would require an existing helmet... Or just a psychopath.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by digital photo (635872)

      You don't need to be a psychopath to do something that is immoral if you are convinced it is moral or right.

      Ie, if the helmet demonstrated an ability to reduce PTSD and anxiety/conflict on the battle field, it would be morally responsible to do so, as it would represent an improvement in military morale as well as better post-military life transition.

      The fact that it also impacts one's moral judgement might be good/bad depending on how one sees the situation. Ie, are soldiers' conflicted emotions causing a

  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#31675446) Journal

    Your Honor it was not my fault. The Earth's magnetic field in a fit of anomalous abnormally high activity a half-hour prior to the robbery compromised my frontal lobe's capacity to allow me to understand what I was going to do was wrong......

  • Alcohol (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#31675450)
    Beer must have an extremely strong magnetic field.... morality goes out the door whenever I consume a few too many.
  • by Captain Spam (66120) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:10PM (#31675452) Homepage

    After months of grueling research bombarding test subjects with all manner of loud and annoying electromagnetic devices and being told to lie just right so that the readings aren't disrupted at all, the test subjects all said they wanted to kill all the researchers in a variety of gruesome ways and didn't have any moral conundrum with doing so. As there were no noticeable flaws in the experiment, the researchers concluded that magnetism can sway the moral compasses of human beings. Case closed!

  • So, if I can just convince my date to climb into an MRI machine, I can finally score with her!
  • canada is near the north pole, while the usa is closer to the south pole. the more south you go in the usa in fact, the more conservative the opinion

    so clearly north pole=liberal, south pole=conservative

    so i will now invent my colossal magnetic northern monopole, hide it in an office tower in dallas texas, and forever alter politics towards the forces of reason and morality! and screw up navigation compasses everywhere!

  • ...it would certainly explain why there are so many rude cell phone users :-)

  • Morality? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neostorm (462848) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:13PM (#31675508)

    What does this mean for someone like me, who lives life by my own idea of morality, which is "Do whatever you want as long as you bring no harm to another"?

    Maybe they're interpreting "harm" differently.

  • Considering the variations on magnetism on the surface of Earth, I wonder if the differences of moral in different regions of the globe has anything to do with the variation on the magnetism on the planet.

    if it has, i'm getting out of here, unless of course a big earthquake fixes the problem!!
  • Morality or empathy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DdJ (10790) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:17PM (#31675576) Homepage Journal

    From the MIT article: "they found that the subjects' ability to make moral judgments that require an understanding of other people's intentions".

    They don't appear to have claimed a general change to moral judgments of all types. They're saying that people were less able to make moral judgments that involved modeling someone else's internal state.

    What it sounds like to me is, someone found humanity's Asperger switch.

    • by infinite9 (319274) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:53PM (#31676178)

      What it sounds like to me is, someone found humanity's Asperger switch.

      (I have Asperger's Syndrome)

      AS is so much more than this. It causes 100 little problems that all add up to making your life suck.

      From my own personal experience I know that people with AS have trouble reading facial expressions because they're never looking at people faces. This is because eye contact is uncomfortable (i'd call it more like creepy, or heebee-jeebees, it still happens to me). Because it's uncomfortable, they never learn to read it. I've started forcing myself to look at facial expressions in an attempt to read people's eyes. I'm slowly starting to be able to do this.

      As other examples, my gait is subtly wrong. I have a hard time identifying the source of certain emotions. And I'm sometimes not to good at reading the positions of my arms and legs.

      I think it's more than just a magnetic switch. I think it's a biochemical problem that causes development problems that propagate throughout your life.

  • by Zan Lynx (87672) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:18PM (#31675580) Homepage

    So this is how you make a Helm of Opposite Alignment!

    Lawful Evil, here I come!

  • So we truly do have a moral compass.

    I wonder if it is orientation dependent. If I face north, am I less likely to punch somebody in the face?

  • Seriously, did anyone else hear the summary in the voice of an old-style B-movie narrator, complete with over-the-top sound effects? This might have creepy implications, one battery powered implant and a bit of training and you could turn anyone into an assassin. But what would happen if you did something heinous, and then turned the implant off? Granted, it seems like this only affects people's ability to judge moral intent, the article doesn't mention anything about losing your morality altogether. Althou
  • Implications are interesting:

    1. An army of morally removed individuals, everyone gets an electromagnet attached with a mora-meter, the computer adjusts the necessary dose based on the current situation. So now we see a woman and a child on the battlefield, mora-meter is reading 7.8 on the M-Scale, there is the target of opportunity right behind them and no time to react. Increasing the field strength. Mora-meter is at 1.89. Directive: shoot through the civilians. Outcome: 1 target down, 2 civilian casu

  • The researchers found that when the RTPJ was disrupted volunteers were more likely to judge actions solely on the basis of whether they caused harm -- not whether they were morally wrong in themselves.

    Sounds like researchers found the seat of superstition, not morality. The volunteers judged actions on the basis of their actual consequences instead of religious mumbo jumbo. That's not just an interesting finding, it's progress. Maybe science has found a way to get the Pope to spend more time protecting children and less time forgiving child rapists.

  • A small change in moral response, and even then, it isn't as if they turned off the moral center. Looks like they just caused the subjects to focus on the effect of the action than the reasons behind it. It's almost like they muffled some of the higher reasoning functions behind morality and changed the focus from "The person's action resulted in [x], though he didn't mean it to" to "The person's action resulted in [x]".

    They didn't kill morality; they hastened the response to a morally vague event. Black an

  • "In other news, scientists discover that repeatedly standing in close proximity to magnetic imaging equipment while it is in use degrades the scientist's ability to determine the moral implications of their testing. More at 11."

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:34PM (#31675842) Homepage

    What did they do to distinguish scrambling of moral judgement from simple scrambling of judgement? Seems to me that people who are simply having trouble thinking clearly are likely to make these mistakes. Someone whose ability to think at all is impaired might very well assert that the guy who let his girl walk across the unsafe bridge was blameless because they lost track of the fact that he knew it was unsafe.

  • by LockeOnLogic (723968) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:44PM (#31676010)
    Read the article from MIT, not the other sources. You'll notice a distinct difference. I hate to see good research get misrepresented.

    The non-MIT articles makes grand claims that are NOWHERE in the real research. The "journalists" makes large claims about the existence of a "moral center" of the brain. The actual study and the MIT summary gives a much more restrained and accurate description. It shows that temporary disruption of TPJ interferes with the complete normal process which draws upon many areas of the brain.

    Let's use a train analogy to get away from car analogies.

    In order for a train to go from A to B, there must be intact railing the whole way. If we alter a section of the track and derail the train, it does NOT prove that the removed section is the train transportation center of the railroad track. It is essential, but it is only part of the process. The disruption of this area of the brain only shows that it is essential in the complete processing of moral judgement, not the center itself. I'm not talking down this research, only the journalistic representation of it.
  • Management (Score:3, Funny)

    by kirill.s (1604911) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @02:53PM (#31676180)
    I misread the headline as:
    Management Can Sway Man's Moral Compass

    And thought... now how is that news? :)
  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @03:00PM (#31676306) Homepage Journal

    "Young points out that the study was correlation; their work only links the RTJP, morality and magnetic fields, but doesn't definitively prove that one causes another."

    Yea, right, because not questioning people may cause a strong magnetic field around one's head... People are so fast to jump to conclusions based on correlation, why did the news report that it is just a correlation when there is no way* it can't imply causation? Looks like some uninformed journalist just read the wikipedia article on logic falacies.

    * Except for a flawed study, but that possibility is always present, and not directly related to the measured correlation..

  • Causation (Score:5, Informative)

    by dcollins (135727) on Tuesday March 30, 2010 @03:08PM (#31676442) Homepage

    "Young points out that the study was correlation; their work only links the RTJP, morality and magnetic fields, but doesn't definitively prove that one causes another."

    What is it with Slashdotters' completely fucked-in-the-head understanding of correlation vs. causation? The article says exactly the opposite of this summary!

    "Recent fMRI studies of moral judgment find fascinating correlations, but Young et al usher in a new era by moving beyond correlation to causation," says Sinnott-Armstrong, who was not involved in this research.

    And that was completely obvious without even needing to see the article anyway. This is a designed experiment. Designed experiments establish causation. (See Weiss, Introductory Statistics 7E, p. 22, et. al.) Obviously a person's moral judgements aren't causing the magnet that you're switching on-and-off to work. For chrissake.

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