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Science

Your Moral Compass Is Reversible 295

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-must-have-had-a-good-reason dept.
scibri writes "Your moral positions may be more flexible than you think. Researchers in Sweden have tricked people into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions (paper in PLOS ONE). They used a 'magic trick' to reverse a person's responses to such moral issues as 'Large-scale governmental surveillance of e-mail and Internet traffic ought to be forbidden as a means to combat international crime and terrorism,' by switching 'forbidden' to 'permitted' when the subject turned the page of the questionaire. When asked to read back the questions and answers, about half of the subjects did not detect the changes, and a full 53% of participants argued unequivocally for the opposite of their original attitude in at least one of the manipulated statements."
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Your Moral Compass Is Reversible

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  • by The Barking Dog (599515) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:47AM (#41409649) Homepage

    Isn't that a better test of people's poor reading comprehension and listening skills?

    • by cod3r_ (2031620) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:53AM (#41409681)
      That's what I got from this too. People are just more or less dummies and pay very little attention to what they are talking about.
      • by superwiz (655733) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:15AM (#41409897) Journal
        You are confusing poor attention span with stupidity. Poor attention span can also lead to more creative thinking and thus more innovative ideas.
        • by kilfarsnar (561956) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:23AM (#41409979)

          You are confusing poor attention span with stupidity. Poor attention span can also lead to more creative thinking and thus more innovative ideas.

          That's what I tell my boss, anyway! ;-)

        • by Golddess (1361003) on Friday September 21, 2012 @11:18AM (#41411411)
          Is it really poor attention span that would cause you you to overlook the double word in this sentence?

          Because that's what this seems like to me. Only instead of two of the same word in a row, they simply replaced one word with another in a giant sea of words. Though one might be able to make the case that the people taking the questionaire should have picked up on "hey, why am I being asked each question twice?"
          • by Immerman (2627577) on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:14PM (#41412863)

            Except that isn't what appears to have happened. FTFA they had people record answers to a few moral questions and then retroactively changed the wording of the question (using some paste and paper trickery) so that their recorded answers actually meant the opposite of what they originally did. When people were then asked to review their answers and discuss/defend their position 53% didn't detect the change and argued for the position opposite their original answer.

            Now you could try to argue that all those people misread the question in the first place and consequently mis-answered it so that the trick reversal actually corrected the situation, but that would mean that over half the original answers were not representative of their actual position. The implication being that for such a question you would get a more accurate representation of their position by flipping a coin than by actually asking them, which would seem to be ridiculous and severely undermine the validity of every survey ever done on the planet.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:53AM (#41409685)

      Isn't that a better test of people's poor reading comprehension and listening skills?

      No. It shows that most people are not thinking critically, which we already knew, but is a lot more dangerous.

      • But what is more to the point, is how often our emotional reaction controls our reasoning then we like to admit.

        For example in politics there is the use of Power Words, these words give us an emotional picture that in turns turns off our rational processing.

        For example Back in 2003 when asked before going to war with Iraq a reporter asked If they are WMD their response was this is a "Slam Dunk". They didn't answer the question however we all stopped asking and most of us (YES MOST OF US) supported the war,

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:59AM (#41409751) Journal
      On the contrary, the results show that many people actually read the altered questions to their answers correctly, and then still stand by their given answer, even though the meaning of the answer was effectively changed 180 degrees by changing the question.

      "Is censorship bad?". You answer "Yes"
      They then change the question to read "Is censorship good?" and ask you to read back the altered question and your answer.

      The interesting part is not that half the test subjects fail to notice the changes. The interesting part is that, when asked to provide argument, about half the test subjects will argue *against* the position they held when they answered the unaltered question. In my example, thest subject would provide argument in favour of censorship, even though he was against it earlier.
      • by anomaly256 (1243020) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:05AM (#41409801)
        All that shows is that the majority of people would rather lie than appear to be lying
        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          Hey, whatever it takes to get by in life, survive and succeed, you know?

          I think most peoples' moral compass....points in the direction that will be most beneficial to them at the given moment they are called upon to utilize it.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:02AM (#41410511)

            Hey, whatever it takes to get by in life, survive and succeed, you know?

            I think most peoples' moral compass....points in the direction that will be most beneficial to them at the given moment they are called upon to utilize it.

            Yes. Those would be idiots who lack integrity and character. You can usually find them chasing a carrot on a string.

            Pretty soon, we'll be able to buy morons like this on the open market in packages of a dozen...oh wait, I forgot, it's an election year. We already do.

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:22AM (#41410779) Homepage Journal

            I think most peoples' moral compass....points in the direction that will be most beneficial to them at the given moment they are called upon to utilize it.

            You know, the longer I live, the more I find the opposite.

            I'm a pretty small sample, of course, and maybe I'm just lucky in how I've run into so many people who are not only decent, but willing to sacrifice for someone else.

            There is still something in us, independent of any religious belief or lack thereof, that makes us hurt when we see someone else hurt, and makes us want to give someone our coat, or a portion of our food. And this despite by the best efforts of our corporatized culture to desensitize us to the suffering of others and our place in our communities. See, selfishness is good for business in a consumer economy. Sharing is bad for business. If my neighbor asks me to borrow $50 until payday, it's bad for the credit card business, because I'm not going to ask my neighbor for $50 plus 23%.

            I guess this all means I'm hopeful.

        • by Bardez (915334)
          You have to wonder how strongly people felt about the question. Try it with taxes or abortion or something that a lot of people actually give a damn about. Unfortunately, despite all I've ever said to people, censorship never enters the give-a-damn category for the general populace.
      • Then this just shows people trust their previous judgement blindly, when told they answered a certain way they assumed that answer reflects their position on the topic and that since it's their position it's right, rather than being self-critical and asking themselves again if that answer is the correct position.

        Just shows people's personal choice for faith over critical thinking, which we already knew.
      • by craigminah (1885846) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:36AM (#41410135)

        Didn't Looney Tunes teach this exact thing 60 years ago:

        Daffy Duck to Elmer Fudd: "It's rabbit season!"
        Buggs Bunny to Elmer Fudd: "It's duck season!"
        Daffy Duck to Elmer Fudd: "It's rabbit season!"
        Buggs Bunny to Elmer Fudd: "It's rabbit season!"
        Daffy Duck to Elmer Fudd: "It's duck season, now blast the duck!"
        Elmer Fudd: [boom, duck bill on top of Daffy Duck's head]

        • Exactly what I came here to post. Nicely done. I've used this throughout my life to infuriate siblings and co-workers alike. The really interesting part is how long it takes them to figure out what happened in the argument. The more emotional you can get them the longer it will take.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          I can't believe this didn't immediately spring to mind! Thanks for posting.

      • Maybe they were arguing for their position, their arguments were just so bad they appeared as the opposite?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        On the contrary, the results show that many people actually read the altered questions to their answers correctly, and then still stand by their given answer, even though the meaning of the answer was effectively changed 180 degrees by changing the question. The interesting part is that, when asked to provide argument, about half the test subjects will argue *against* the position they held when they answered the unaltered question.

        They summary states that this happened in 'at least one case'.

        But this doesn't support the narrative very strongly at all. There could be some issues people don't care about either way very strongly, and seeking to justify the answer they thought they gave to those, would be different from justifying the answer to something they really cared about.

      • by dcollins (135727)

        I think the far more likely interpretation is that over half didn't read the statement carefully the first time.

        If they verbalized a coherent argument "pro" and page 1 and then a coherent argument "con" on page 2 then they'd have something; but as-is this just bolsters my experience in the classroom that most people can't read or write details at all.

      • On the contrary, the results show that many people actually read the altered questions to their answers correctly, and then still stand by their given answer, even though the meaning of the answer was effectively changed 180 degrees by changing the question.

        "Is censorship bad?". You answer "Yes"

        They then change the question to read "Is censorship good?" and ask you to read back the altered question and your answer..

        The problem with that test is that it doesn't take into account the moral beliefs someone might hold which is not in the statement. They're trying to get people to reverse their position on censorship, but if their position on what is justifiable to stop terrorism is set, then they can switch their position while maintaining logical consistency.

        Anything is justifiable to stop terrorism, government censorship makes it difficult to stop terrorism, therefore government censorship must be stopped.

        Anything is j

      • by Carewolf (581105)

        The interesting part is not that half the test subjects fail to notice the changes. The interesting part is that, when asked to provide argument, about half the test subjects will argue *against* the position they held when they answered the
        unaltered question.

        It is already know in cognitive science that it is common for people to form their arguments by rationalising their conclusions. This is just a new clever way of proving this effect by changing their conclusions while they were not looking.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:03AM (#41409781) Homepage Journal

      Isn't that a better test of people's poor reading comprehension and listening skills?

      Yes!

      I mean, No.

      Well, whatever it is we're talking about, it's WRONG.

      (Or RIGHT.)

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@NoSpAM.gmail.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:08AM (#41409829) Journal

      It's worse than that. If I understand TFA correctly it's saying that these people gave their opinions on a topic by filling out a survey form with an agree/disagree scale, but then that form had it's questions flipped (with their same answers filled in) and the people supported what was written on the form later when interviewed about their answers.

      So for example, you'd have a question that says "Eating babies should be forbidden" with a scale of 1-5, 1 being "strongly disagree" and 5 being "strongly agree." You fill in 5. Then your form gets changed behind your back and you are asked to explain your answers in an interview. The people in this survey saw that they apparently answered "Strongly Agree" to "Eating babies should be permitted" and began to defend baby-eating O_O

      • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun@noSPAm.gmail.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:41AM (#41410193) Journal

        Eating babies should be forbidden

        Strongly disagree: If the babies don't eat, they die off, and we run out of people in a generation. I, for one, am all for eating babies.

        Starving babies, on the other hand, I would like to forbid.

        • I was thinking the other way:

          Eating babies should be forbidden.
          Strongly Disagree: Lamb, suckling pig, and veal are some of my favourites.
          • Sentences like 'Last night, I helped my uncle, Jack, off a horse' are why one needs to be *very* careful with grammar and punctuation.

            English: The perl of spoken languages.

    • I think it is more of a case most people really don't have a strong moral compass or have really though about the issues at hand.

      We Grow up with our parents saying that the Republicans are Evil and the Democrats are Good or the other way around, this helps fix your views of the world. Now if these moral issues don't come up in your life, you can go on the belief that it is correct without really thinking about it. For me what helped me moderate myself from growing up with very conservative parents was the

    • by trout007 (975317) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:37AM (#41410145)

      I am an engineer and when I first started having design reviews in relatively large groups > 25 people. I was terrible at it. I couldn't think on my feet and explain things clearly. I had stage fright and I just talked so I wouldn't appear foolish because thinking under that pressure was difficult. As I gained experience it became much more natural and now I feel like what I say in those groups is actually what I am thinking.

      I think the same thing is happening here. Someone has filled out a questionnaire and is now being asked to read aloud (uncomfortable for many) and then defend their opinions (also difficult for many). Many people just want to get out of those situations and not appear foolish and don't take time to think.

    • by Barryke (772876)

      Or their compass doesnt encompas the subject. Some things some people care less about, or have a less defined opinion about.

      Depending who asks me on what moment in what way (context) the answer on the same question may change, especially after consuming (for me relevant) information in the meanwhile.

      The other questions in the questionnaire help support answers in eachother, its how many guestimate their exams.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    • by DumbSwede (521261)
      I would hazard a guess that people that are do not easily change their positions in light of new evidence are more subject to this effect than others, a sort of elastic collision of opinion inertia, tricked into a since-that-is-what-I-believed-before-I-will-continue-to-believe-it.
  • Fox News (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RazzleFrog (537054) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:49AM (#41409659)

    Hasn't Fox News been pulling this trick for years? It's awful how people get money from the government - except, of course, our viewers who are primarily on medicare and social security. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

    • by game kid (805301)

      They can be bizarre neck-breakers to watch sometimes. One moment they're pointing the finger of scorn at, say, "entitlements", and another they're going after Obama for, say, raiding them and risking the lives of the elderly.

      All politicians do this, because disparate voting blocs, but the way Fox News and the GOP do it and the vast number of lies they use to that effect are frightening and frighteningly effective. Personally I'd prefer to break my neck at a mall...

      • by superwiz (655733)
        Blah blah blah. Translation: my party is better than your party. Reality: there is a vector space of issues with weights assigned to each dimension of the space. "Policy" is a recursive function on this space. Every political argument ever made: correlation (ie, linear projection of one variable in the space on one other variable in that space) between 2 variables, among over a hundred variables, is all that matters.
    • Words such as forbidden and permitted brings a lot of implications about the current state of things. It might not be that people are arguing for the opposite case, but are arguing that people should have a choice?

      I often play the devil's advocate when conversing with people, just to try to get them to think things through from different points of view. Having strong opinions without actually having thought about why you have them is a bad way to live.

    • by TWX (665546)
      Fox News is passionate, in the overflowing with emotion sense. They portray outrage at perceived injustice and express strong nonverbal approval or disapproval on topics. A lot of people seem to naturally empathize, probably as a reaction similar to what allows us to build communities in the first place, so the viewers or a portion of them become as passionate as the presenters out of empathy, even if they'd have otherwise disagreed with the positions.

      Msnbc and Air America have tried this approach with
      • I don't have any problem with the existence of media like this, but I do have a problem with the labeling. It isn't news and I think it is so far away from news that the title is misleading.

        If they want to have a format like that more power to them, but they should be disallowed from calling it "news." One label I like is "news entertainment" (basically because they are analog to news as the WWF.. oops I mean WWE is to sports).

        Fox, being on the far right, is dealing with some weak minded people who can't

    • Re:Fox News (Score:4, Insightful)

      by KalvinB (205500) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:49AM (#41410327) Homepage

      Medicare and Social Security are not the government's money. It's our money we specifically paid in for those programs. They're mandated savings accounts.

      • by omnichad (1198475)

        More or less. I mean, it's technically the future generation's money, and pyramid-shaped - counting on continual population growth to be sustainable. It's worked for us so far, but there's likely to be a limit to it soon at the current pay-in rates.

      • by sustik (90111)

        No. You are confusing it with your 401k. Social security is a pay-as-you-go system with guaranteed benefits, an actuary's nightmare... The actuarily prudent system would tie benefits to a (moving average) of incoming contribution, forcing it to be close to be balanced.

        As it stands now, the money paid into the system is not invested in a traditional sense. It is invested in infrastructure, in the education of the next generation etc. so when they grow up to work, they can make money and pay the benefits to

  • by Hentes (2461350) on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:53AM (#41409689)

    Nice trick, but I'm still not sure if people really believed in what they were arguing for or just wanted to avoid looking stupid.

    • by scibri (2544842)
      That's a good question, and one that has come up several time in discussion of this research. Since they explained the trick to people after, I think that possibility might have been minimized, as the subjects might then say "oh, I thought something was amiss, but was embarrassed to ask" and then they could be discounted, or assigned to the 'not changing opinions' group. But that's a guess on my part. In hindsight, I should have asked it myself when editing the story, and gotten Zoe to find out for sure!
    • Both of those possibilities are equally scary. If this happened to me I'd read over the answers, see that they were consistently opposite of my opinions and I'd either ask what the hell happened to my form or think I had some kind of massive brainfart when filling it out. But I wouldn't defend the positions on the form.

  • ...both long-term and on topics that the subjects had felt strongly enough about that they had purposefully taken a reasoned stance?

    I won't disagree that lots of people can be manipulated relatively easily, as that's how marketing makes a living. I just wonder how lasting or personally important the topics were.

    It's also important to note that those experienced in practicing debate often have to advocate for something they don't personally believe in, and those who practice law do the same.
  • Cartoons? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bdcrazy (817679) <bdc_tggr-forums@yahoo.com> on Friday September 21, 2012 @08:56AM (#41409715) Homepage

    Duck Season
    Wabbit Season
    Duck Season ...
    Daffy tells bugs to fire and gets shot.

    How the title is misleading.

    Maybe it wasn't just harmless humor with all the gun issues these days and the lack of understanding.

  • duck season (Score:2, Funny)

    by shadowrat (1069614)
    So they got the subjects to say duck season when they really meant wabbit season? I seem to have seen something like this before.
  • ...it's merely the application of sleight of hand to take advantage of the fact that people don't pay any attention to anything which does not affect them directly either to their advantage or disadvantage. When you throw in such memes as "Think of the children!" or "If you don't agree, you're a terr'rist!", it's pretty fucking easy to change people's minds - without them ever being aware or realising that you just took their stupidity and rammed it up their arses with a weakest-of-the-weak thought-ending c

  • "I hold far too many opinions to be able to remember the reasons for all of them", as Shaw once said.

  • You are forbidden to mod up this post!
  • by Crasoose (1621969) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:02AM (#41409771)
    I'd not be surprised if you planted a bunch of questions that are obscure to the every man and he changed his opinion when influenced. It also depends on how many questions they asked that were relatively new to the participant, they might get a bit overwhelmed with picking their answers. Especially if it is a topic like Net Neutrality to Joe Sixpack.
  • I just give out a random one, different each time.

  • What I see is a bunch of people who were given a list of long, cumbersomly worded questions, spread over two pages. The second page repeated the questions on the first page, with two of them containing one changed word. I know if I were taking this survey, I'd read the first question on the second page and see that it's the same as one the first one and give it the same answer. Most of us would not read each question very closely for the second time unless we had some expectation of being tricked. The resul

    • by pavon (30274)

      But the interesting part is that half of them would rather defend their accidental choice and argue against what they really believed than admit that they made a simple mistake filling out a form. It is an interesting insight into how ego can be more influential than opinion, and how that can be used against people to influence their opinions.

  • by apcullen (2504324) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:07AM (#41409815)
    Buggs Bunny proved this years ago.

    "You keep out of this. He doesn't have to shoot you now!"
  • It proves that people are easily tricked and aren't retaining what they are reading.

    As for Moral compass, this didn't need a Study to prove that a person's moral compass can change, hell look at the number of people who get married and state that they will be faithful to only one person and turn around and cheat on their spouses. Our divorce rate in this country shows moral compass changes better than any study.

  • I'm not sure that illustrates that you've 'reversed their moral compass'.
    I think it shows how vulnerable people are to carefully-phrased questions, and once they've dismissed the 'contemplation' of a question in their mind, it's resolved and - if presented with something that they believe indicates they've already cogitated on it - they won't think it through.

    So really it shows that we don't deeply think on everything particularly if we think we've already thought it through, which is hardly a shocking conc

  • Old trick (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:15AM (#41409899) Homepage

    We used to do this at school:

    "What would you prefer, to be nearly hit or nearly missed?"
    "Nearly missed"
    "OK then!"

    And then you give them a dead arm :)

  • "'Large-scale governmental surveillance of e-mail and Internet traffic ought to be forbidden as a means to combat international crime and terrorism,' by switching 'forbidden' to 'permitted'."

    Maybe this just proves that people get confused by long sentences made up of long words. What if the sentence was simply phrased as "Spying on people's email and Facebook accounts is bad"? How many more will notice when the "bad" is changed to "good".

    I don't know what's worse, the weasel words of bureaucrats or the over

  • by dltaylor (7510) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:25AM (#41409989)

    http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0030014/quotes [imdb.com]

    and quoted, below (Sir Humphrey is a senior civil servant and Mr. Woolley, his junior):

    Sir Humphrey Appleby: [demonstrating how public surveys can reach opposite conclusions] Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the rise in crime among teenagers?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there is lack of discipline and vigorous training in our Comprehensive Schools?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think young people welcome some structure and leadership in their lives?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do they respond to a challenge?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Might you be in favour of reintroducing National Service?
    Bernard Woolley: Er, I might be.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes or no?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Of course, after all you've said you can't say no to that. On the other hand, the surveys can reach opposite conclusions.
    [survey two]
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Mr. Woolley, are you worried about the danger of war?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Are you unhappy about the growth of armaments?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think there's a danger in giving young people guns and teaching them how to kill?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Do you think it's wrong to force people to take arms against their will?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: Would you oppose the reintroduction of conscription?
    Bernard Woolley: Yes.
    [does a double-take]
    Sir Humphrey Appleby: There you are, Bernard. The perfectly balanced sample.

  • I have used this technique for years in the licenses I use with my software. First notification, "I agree to the terms and conditions of this licensing agreement." Second notification, "I agree to renounce my rights under the constitution, sell myselft into slavery, and surrender my first born child to you." 100% adoption rate on both.
  • Leaving the Ecuadorian embassy and being extradited to Sweden in order to be tried for sex scandal ought to be forbidden as a means to combat political crime and terrorism committed in secret by established government.
  • as they get older. Think back to a time when you were half your age you are now, aren't there some things you thought were right (or wrong) that you have since changed your mind on?

    I know I have. I used to, for example, think welfare served a good and noble purpose. Not anymore.

  • Because I'd probably not notice if my answers change in questions I didn't really care about. Why did I check that? Well, if I say "because I don't give a fuck" they'll not pay me, so I'll better come up with some reasons why I crossed out what I crossed out...

  • An excellent case (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GeekWithAKnife (2717871) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:41AM (#41410189)

    This is a prime example of cognitive dissonance and personal bias. People are biased in their own favor to the point where decisions and even memories will be reconstructed to agree with themselves.
    Assuming a person is fooled into thinking a past decision was purely their own; what happens when a person has to explain something he does not remember? he makes it up!

    It's sort of a basic "Oh it was my idea so I must be right" and the smarter the person the more elaborate the explanation around it will be.

    Personally I believe that it is this sort of situation that should make one question an idea he himself has thought up even "intuition". It's surprising that people assume/are biased that just because a thought occurred to them it must be somehow more correct.
  • moral reasoning (Score:4, Informative)

    by mbaGeek (1219224) on Friday September 21, 2012 @09:52AM (#41410357) Homepage

    all this study illustrates is a low level of moral reasoning skills on the part of the reasearchers

    isn't this sort of thing covered in introductory statistics classes? How the question is asked will always impact the results of the study. If you are making your living taking polls, it is possible to get the results you want by skewing the sample size/distribution and/or writing biased questions.

    BTW: what is the difference between "ethics" and "morality?" If you are a politician (who just got caught cheating on his wife) you might say "Ethics is what I do on the job, morality is what I do in private." What the politician is REALLY saying is that "Whatever I do is right - because I say it is right."

    moral relativity is a very dangerous thing which has become the norm in western society (but the other extreme is the Spanish Inquisition - and nobody expects the ...)

    I will argue that "ethics" is the day to day interpretation of "morality." for example: do you believe "stealing" is wrong? yes, you shouldn't take other people's stuff - that would be WRONG. ("morality") Is it stealing if I walk off with the bank teller's pen? ("ethics").

    • by BeanThere (28381)

      There is no real meaningful difference between morality and ethics (it's a pointless "debate"), though the usual difference given is along the lines of that 'morality' says it would be wrong to defend a known murderer but 'ethics' dictates a laywer must argue for his client even if he believes the client to be guilty. However, when you really think about why we have due process and fair trials, the distinction disappears. Think about it - it's both 'unethical' and 'immoral' to take other people's stuff, and

  • Part of the basic skill of critical thinking is to be able to listen to and understand arguments for positions you do not agree with.

    If you're a mind-numbed automaton toeing a party line, simply regurgitating what you've been fed, you might feel you can make the claim that you're "morally consistent" or even "morally superior" to those who have the capability of analyzing data, considering different arguments, and making judgment calls based on that analysis.

  • of the the people in this sample were clearly RETARDED. simple.
  • by bickerdyke (670000) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:10AM (#41410619)

    The needle on the "moral compass" usually shows in two opposite directions. (At least for the subjects that are worth discussing at all)

    Like in the example here:

    Of course you don't want gouvernment snoop in your facebook account, mails and phone calls.

    But also Of course you want terrorists and other criminals convicted and jailed.

    And you know the arguments for both sides, and you know that none of them (or very few of them...) are wrong. So it's reduced to a matter of which end of the moral compass needle seems to be longer and not which direction it is pointing to.

  • by MrLizard (95131) on Friday September 21, 2012 @10:23AM (#41410783)

    President Bush authorizes torture, indefinite detention without trial, and invokes Executive Privilege to keep secrets.
    Conservatives: A great President, fighting to keep America safe from terrorists!
    Liberals: Bush is a fascist pig who stole the election!

    President Obama authorizes torture, indefinite detention without trial, and invokes Executive Privilege to keep secrets.
    Conservatives: Obama is a Stalinist Muslim who stole the election!
    Liberals: A great President, fighting to keep America safe from terrorists!

  • "DUH!"

  • by Baldrson (78598) * on Friday September 21, 2012 @01:53PM (#41413313) Homepage Journal
    What they should have done is actually measure the zeitgeist by using the same technique and same data, but carefully construct the questionnaire to cover a wide range of "moral" issues to see which of them most construct the zeitgeist.

    For example:

    "Do you believe African are inferior to Europeans?"

    Change to:

    "Do you believe Africans aren't inferior to Europeans?"

    I'll bet virtually 100% would detect the change and not argue in favor of the opposite.

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