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Does Scientific Literacy Make People More Ethical? 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the engaged-with-reality dept.
New submitter alysion writes "Per research published in the online journal PLOS One, psychologists Christine Ma-Kellams of Harvard University and Jim Blascovich of the University of California, Santa Barbara report, 'Thinking about science leads individuals to endorse more stringent moral norms.' In one of the four supporting experiments, undergraduates considered an account of a date rape and were asked to judge behavior on a scale of 1 to 100. Science types, perhaps not surprisingly, proved to have a better grasp of reality, including the moral kind."
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Does Scientific Literacy Make People More Ethical?

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  • by j-beda (85386) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:04PM (#43320683) Homepage

    1. Narrow study group.
    2. Highly questionable conclusions.
    3. Suspected publication bias.

    All in all -1 Overrated story.

    Psychology is hard. Even if you are interpreting your subjects' behaviour correctly (a very big "if"), the idea that they are representative of "humans" in general is probably wrong.I think this article was mentioned on Slashdot a while back - http://www.psmag.com/magazines/pacific-standard-cover-story/joe-henrich-weird-ultimatum-game-shaking-up-psychology-economics-53135/ [psmag.com]

    "...The potential implications of the unexpected results were quickly apparent to Henrich. He knew that a vast amount of scholarly literature in the social sciences—particularly in economics and psychology—relied on the ultimatum game and similar experiments. At the heart of most of that research was the implicit assumption that the results revealed evolved psychological traits common to all humans, never mind that the test subjects were nearly always from the industrialized West. Henrich realized that if the Machiguenga results stood up, and if similar differences could be measured across other populations, this assumption of universality would have to be challenged.

    Henrich had thought he would be adding a small branch to an established tree of knowledge. It turned out he was sawing at the very trunk. He began to wonder: What other certainties about “human nature” in social science research would need to be reconsidered when tested across diverse populations?..."

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by sqrt(2) (786011) on Saturday March 30, 2013 @06:59PM (#43321015) Journal

    Are you kidding me? In virtually every field the Nazis were backwards and intentionally antagonistic to a proper implementation of the scientific method. They rejected Einstein's relativity as "Jewish physics" because of its philosophical implications and the religion of its early researchers. The NSDAP's stance on education was that no subject could be divorced from "racial" truths, hence you had physics replaced with "German physics", biology and anthropology replaced with "Rassenwissenschaft" (racial science), and even maths corrupted with racist, imperialist, overtones.

    They were able to pull off some amazing short term work in applied physics and engineering, especially in aerospace and chemistry, but they were handicapped by a worldview that was absolutely hostile to empirical evidenced based research and education. If anything those advancements were in spite of the educational climate, and largely attributed to scientists who were trained in pre-Nazi institutions. If the Germans had won, the next generation of scientists and researchers would have been a dismal lot indeed; muddled, confused, indoctrinated, unable to think critically, and infused with a racist mentality that would poison and retard their ability to make meaningful advancements. After a few generations they'd have nothing but pseudoscientists and mystics.

    And don't get me started on the Soviets. Lamarckism, in the form of Lysenkoism, was the official doctrine of the state well into the 20th century.

Anyone can do any amount of work provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment. -- Robert Benchley

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