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Study shows how morals can be changed by others

Well, this certainly explains the typical Fox News viewer who only 15 years ago was perfectly rational and sane:

People can be tricked into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions, researchers report today in PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Lars Hall, a cognitive scientist at Lund University in Sweden, recruited 160 volunteers to fill out a 2-page survey on the extent to which they agreed with 12 statements — either about moral principles relating to society in general or about the morality of current issues in the news, from prostitution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

But the surveys also contained a ‘magic trick’. Each contained two sets of statements, one lightly glued on top of the other. Each survey was given on a clipboard, on the back of which the researchers had added a patch of glue. When participants turned the first page over to complete the second, the top set of statements would stick to the glue, exposing the hidden set but leaving the responses unchanged


People were even willing to argue in favor of the reversed statements: A full 53% of participants argued unequivocally for the opposite of their original attitude in at least one of the manipulated statements, the authors write. Hall and his colleagues have previously reported this effect, called ‘choice blindness’, in other areas, including taste and smell and aesthetic choice.


The possibility of using the technique as a means of moral persuasion is “intriguing”, says Liane Young, a psychologist at Boston College in Massachusetts. “These findings suggest that if I’m fooled into thinking that I endorse a view, I’ll do the work myself to come up with my own reasons [for endorsing it],” she says.

These researchers took their good sweet time getting around to researching and publishing this stuff.  Where were they 4 years ago??  Of course, we can’t ignore the effect of peer pressure and the “pain of independence”.  Once you identify with a group, it’s hard to break away from it even it it’s going over a cliff morally, like the Democratic loyalists are doing currently.

Still, it makes sense.  Think about all the times Geroge W. Bush confused Osama bin Laden for Saddam Hussein when he was trying to gin up support for stupidly invading Iraq.  Or think about how many people were snookered into supporting the Patriot Act or the Department of Homeland Security or think that Occupy protestors are lice ridden sex addicts.  Or that Sandra Fluke is a slut.  Or that 47% of Americans don’t deserve the social security they paid into all of their adult working lives.  Or that it is OK to call your opponent’s supporters racists.

It’s easier than we think.

And for those Democrats out there who think that Romney has screwed up so badly that he’s bound to lose, be careful to not jump to conclusions.  This election is still a referendum on Obama who was no FDR during the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Negative feelings towards him are running pretty high right now.  If people want to get rid of him, they’ll find a reason.  It won’t be that hard.

32 Responses

  1. Unfortunately I suspect my spouse is correct about the election: if there’s any way at all to do it, the corporate media will drag Obama across the finish line.

  2. Hillary Clinton: “There Were A Lot Of Times When I Appreciated” Fox News During Primary There are times that the only news outlet that will report on the shenanigans of the left, the Democratic Party and the Obama corruption is Fox News. Without that news outlet, we would be in the dark.

    I can’t point to one unbiased news outlet. Most will surreptitiously hide its bias. AP and Reuters are about the best at hiding their bias. Fox News doesn’t hide its bias, and for that reason, I don’t consider it the worst.

    • Unfortunately, Roger Ailes, imo, decided that having a woman president wasn’t as bad as having a black president. I don’t think that any of them truly recognized Hillary’s character, experience and policies as being superior to Obama’s.

      • I just assumed they hated all democrats equally so they were more fair. Or perhaps they recognized they were going to get a democratic president and wanted a competent one.

    • It IS the worst precisely because it doesn’t cover up its biases. By being to fiercely reactionary and crazy, while defending and winning its right to lie in court, it has legitimized it’s operation, which to me looks like unleashing every bigoted selfish impulse old people have lurking in their pre-civil rights, pre-feminism conditioning.
      Hillary thanks EVERYONE. That’s just her way. Heck, she even thanked us back in April 2008. We sat in on a private phone call with her.
      Fox news gave her an opportunity to reach voters through her interview with o’reilly. I think they thought they could make her look radical but she did amazingly well and held her own.
      That doesn’t mean she approves of their fearmongering and lying and disgusting pandering to the dark archetypes that inhabit the inner recesses of our minds.

      • I never said Hillary approved of Fox News reporting. I know that once she said that her team looked at the media, and Fox News was the outlet that reported her campaign the best. Since Fox News is the target of the left, it was another reason for the obots to hate Hillary.
        My point is that to find out certain information that won’t be reported by the left leaning media, Fox News is the place to go.

        RD, you say that being out front with the bias is worse. We’ll disagree on that. Hidden bias, is hidden propaganda. That’s how the Iraq War was sold. Most believed the media because they didn’t know it was surreptitious propaganda.


          You are living in a parallel universe if you think the left has a major media outlet. If it did ever start advocating for left leaning policies, the owners would pull the plug so fast your head would spin.

          Most people believed the Iraq war crap because they’re dumber than a box of rocks, can’t think their way out of a paper bag and didn’t want to to look weak to their friends in case they were wrong. But if you looked closely at the evidence that was presented, you’d know that it was total bullshit. All you had to do is apply those critical thinking skills that everyone is famously going on about but apparently do not know how to use. Nothing was more disappointing to me than watching the entire nation fall for those lies and then pressure their politicians to go to war. I could not believe how stupid people were. There were no WMDs, the claims made about them were fantastic and yet, people swallowed it completely.

          If you watch Fox, I don’t think much of your ability to think. Sorry, I just don’t. In fact, if you watch any cable news, or network news, you’re wasting your time as far as I’m concerned.

          Watch the daily show with Jon Stewart or the Colbert Report if you want to know what’s really going on. no, no, don’t even go there with the liberal thing. They’re just telling the truth and as we all know, the truth has a strong liberal bias.

          Or watch Fox for all I care. But PLEASE don’t bore me with lame excuses about it being fairer or something. It’s nothing of the sort. It’s a deceptive and manipulative network. You like it because it is telling you what your preconceived notions want to hear. It’s as simple as that.

          • I watch Fox because I enjoy seeing accomplished women saying what’s on their mind without getting the back of the hand from a guy. Stewart, MoJo, and Colbert ALL SELL BOOKS!!! They exist to showcase authors of magazines, books and blogs along with the latest movies from their former stand-up buddies. They will interview Lynn Cheyney right after they have sold the latest publication from Mark Halpern.

    • Fox News does hide its bias . . . by lying about it. They call themselves “fair and balanced” and “conservative” so as to hide their Republican Party Propaganda outlet nature mislabled in plain sight.

      One of their key “petropublican” lying-points is about the so-called “nonexistence” of fossil-carbon-burning-driven global warming.
      (Someone once wondered why Saudi Prince al-Waleed bin Talal would not use his 25% ownership stake in MurdochCo Enterprises or whatever the Murdoch company is called to restrain Fox News’s anti-Muslim bias. Someone else answered that Fox News is “talking Prince
      bin Talal’s book” by keeping its audience recruited to the cause of pumping and burning oil till the very last drop is burned. The Fox News audience will suffer in the Big Heat Rising world of tomorrow. They will suffer from Fox’s lied-about bias.)

      Though if Fox News isn’t a Murdoch/ bin Talal petroganda outlet anymore, then I apologise for offering a comment which has been overtaken by events.

  3. “If people want to get rid of him, they’ll find a reason. It won’t be that hard.”

    Like me, for instance. I’m hoping to last long enough to vote against him.

    I know this isn’t the right place to jump in, but I’m scared and desperate and have to try at least asking on the sites where I posted where any help might be available.

    I’m someone who has supported myself, by myself, by my own choice all my adult life, and did it quite well until my field, computer programming, began about fifteen years ago to be redefined as historically male, many years after shops that were thirty to forty percent women were common.

    It would be even ruder that it is to jump in here to list the history of how I was forced out of my field, but the upshot is that I’m 58 years old, have not worked professionally since my last job ended through no fault of my own (that was after five years of blacklisting following an employment discrimination lawsuit I filed for noble and stupidly naive reasons) and have not been able to find even minimum wage work for long enough to let me keep my home.

    I am in a shelter that is a modern version of the Marshalsea prison, two weeks from their thirty day limit, and on the point of losing all that I own in storage and the one thing that allows me any hope of ever returning to work and normality, my car.

    The shelter also controls rental assistance and denied it to me based on the self-fulfilling euphemism that my situation was “unsustainable” i.e. employment discrimination would continue indefinitely and I would eventually become homeless. Other assistance is given by the churches whose charities are now part of USDA, but not to non-Christians such as myself.

    If anyone knows of anything that would help, I would appreciate it more that I can say.

    Thank you for letting me say this, RD.

    • I don’t know where you live, vtrucs, but there are states where the unemployment rate is pretty low, like the plains states (Nebraska, Wyoming, north Dakota).
      If I were you, I’d see if I could borrow some money from a family member, buy a camping trailer or tent on Craigslist and head west. It sounds like something out of the Depression, I know, and that’s pretty much where we are.
      If you are in a high cost of living state, leave. I can’t imagine a blacklist but that’s not to say such things never happen.

      • Thanks, I’m past that point. Nothing left.

        The blacklist was my state government employers being allowed by the federal courts to break every law and precedent with impunity. That meant, among others, their own RIF laws, any laws against giving false negative references, and of course, the laws that should have let me work as an IT professional in the first place, rather than as a support staff for their all-male-but-me-and-one-compliant-female IT workforce.

        IT employers require accurate references and computer work requires current experience. If you cannot use five years of your most current employment history, that’s blacklisting.

        If I could, I’d head for Vermont. As it is, I’m mired in the South, where something straight out of Faulkner killed the last chance that rescued from the blacklist.

        That was my employer’s son being indicted along with four others in the gang rape of a sixteen year old girl. Two of the boys’ wealthier parents got the indictment quashed (one co-defendant went on to commit a particularly horrible cold-blooded murder the next year, AFTER my boss had removed self, son and wife permanently to England, so son not involved in the murder, but the murder makes it even more probable that the rape occurred), but the prestigious University didn’t forgive my boss for his son making the news this way. After boss left for England with officially fond farewells, they made a technically illiterate young man the supervisor of my project and had me doing the work formerly done by students, hoping I’d leave and take the blame for the disarray in which he’d left the work with me. I resisted and was able to work for six more months and receive the full amount of unemployment, but was told by the dean of students that I was going to get an undeserved negative reference. Three years and over eighteen interviews have proven him correct.

        One cannot work in computers and leave out this much. I can and did apply all over the U.S. and some of my interviews were from other states (including Vermont!). Nothing could overcome my former employers’ refusing to provide accurate references. I had no good choices – I could ether explain the situation with the son (an EEOC suit is considered so toxic it’s against the law for the employer to even mention it, but of course….) and have the potential employer not believe me or believe me but not want to cross the university, or just describe my work and wait for them to contact the employer, who was on record as saying I could not do the work they were sitting in front a terminal looking at.

        So that’s why I’m here. I’ve tried everything, applied everywhere, but employers do not want a 58 year old woman for unskilled woman’s jobs and don’t have to hire any woman for the unskilled men’s jobs.

        • I learned programming in college in the 70s 🙂 — never used it.
          I just read this article:

          Need a Job? You’d Better Learn to Code

          • My last two IT employers overwhelmingly preferred programmers with the dangly bits. 30 to 1 in the first case, infinity to zero in the majority of IT departments in the second, with the exception being their library sciences department, which was predominately female EXCEPT in the IT department, where it was still majority male.

            In both cases, my job was given to men who literally could not do it.

    • Also, if you’re going to head west on a big adventure, start a blog, put out a tip jar and document your journey.

    • One other thing. You might want to contact Occupy and see if they are working on any projects that would at least provide you with a place to stay.
      Or, get yourself bonded and clean houses. Do handy work. My mom hires two women to do painting and other handy work for her. They run their own business.
      Think small. Think tiny house. Think storage container. A 8×40 insulated storage container sells for about $2500. Can you find a relative that will let you park one on a piece of land?
      You are going to have to think out of the box. If no one will employ you, hire yourself out.
      Oo! Oo! What about the Peace Corps? I think you can even get healthcare even if the pay is subsistence.

      • I’m sorry to take over your post like this, and I appreciate the suggestions. I had to wait until I was desperate to ask for help publicly though, so I can’t take up those suggestions.

        (Though if I had anything like your skill for riveting rants, I would start a blog. But my introverted and nerdly character pretty much insures any tip jar on a blog I started would have this echoing rattling sound)

        • Your rant is pretty riveting too. You ought to write a book. Though I think you are right about the preference for “dangly bits” don’t forget ageism. You are facing it now, but it helped to get you to this point.

  4. vtrucs, I once filed one of those complaints myself and was as blacklisted as a person with civil service protection can be. What part of the country are you in? Do you have an e-mail where I can contact you? I’d like to provide some assistance personally and try to find a church to help you that doesn’t care whether or not you’re a Christian. There are many out there.

    • I meant to say “as much as person with civil service protection can be”

      • Thank you!

        Either the email I’ve provided for the sign-in, with RD;s assistance, or the oh so obvious vtrucs@gmail.com would work.

        I believe no one who hasn’t been through an EEOC suit quite understands the through-the-looking-glass suspension of reality that starts the moment you refer to yourself in the plaintiff case. Kafka’s Trial is nothing to it.

    • JeanLouise, I’m in western North Carolina.

      If you know of any organization here that can help without doing that “Christian” thing of forcing women back into their place, please email.

      I’ll be out doing that cardboard sign thing today but checking email regularly (if I don’t get arrested, that is).

      • vtrucs: try contacting ELCA (important because there are different flavors of Lutheran and the split was over women clergy…) Lutheran churches, Presbyterian churches or Episcopal churches. They probably have good Samaritan funds and usually a small food supply available. If you explain your situation, many pastors will fill your gas tank and give you something to eat if you want to try to come West. They also can direct you along the way by providing shelters or other help as you travel.

        Those denominations are woman friendly (and GLTB friendly for the most part) and many will pay for a specific bill but they usually won’t directly hand out cash.

        Additionally, you might try looking at non-profit organizations that are woman oriented and try applying for tech jobs with them. I do understand the tech-male preference but I also have seen where non-profits pay below standard and still have a closer to even split of women to men ratio in the technology groups (not 50/50 but you do actually see women).

        • Oh, also – I would think heading north of NC might be helpful as well. You don’t necessarily have to get to Seattle or San Francisco to find tech work. IIRC, Virgina is full of tech. Have you looked at GE in Greenville, SC or BMW? Probably… sorry if that is redundant to your search.

          • Thank you, jjm. There are several Episcopal and Lutheran churches here. If they’re not tied into the main local charity network here, which is controlled by the shelter that would not give me the funds to stay in my house because I’m older, single and female (aka “unsustainable”), they may be able to help.

            It’s ironic that I moved west thirty years ago as a relief from the sexism in the south, specifically Georgia. It was then, but it’s since come around to meet the most regressive areas in the country. This in Washington State was what first removed me from the middle class status I’d earned entirely by my own efforts and sent me into the poverty from which I never fully recovered.

            I guess I want most for people to care that this can legally be done to women. That may be a losing battle.

          • Oh, and to answer your question about specific companies – I guess I’m not getting it across how effortless and effective blacklisting is.

            I had several interviews with outside companies after the EEOC suit, one, for example, for a contract job with Boeing for $65/hr.(The recruiter asked if I minded coming in at the low end at first!). That was based on my resume and actual work that I’d done. Then he contacted my former employer, and that was the end of that. That was just before I took the first $6.50 an hour job to keep my house.

            Same with the current situation with the University, although no one pays women that much here. I’ve interviewed with employers ranging from other major universities to defense contractors to clinical trials firms. They like my skills, they think I can do the work and then it never gets past the contacting my previous employer stage.

            So at this point, unless it’s a very unusual employer that will actually look at my work and the projects I’ve done and AND ALSO disregard what one of the most powerful institutions in the area is willing to say about me, the same thing will happen with any company I apply to.

  5. Find a PayPal way and I’ll help– I managed to survive a lawsuit & EEOC action, though I was an “ally” rather than a complainant.

    • Churl, thank you. I do have one I can send, if you’ll email me at vtrucs@gmail.com.

      And thank you for your courageous stand years ago. I’m so glad you survived it.

    • Churl,

      I have a sort of web page with some docs from the retaliation suit up now.

      It looks a lot like a boring report to management, though. I’m afraid web visuals are not my forte.

  6. A well timed and astute blog, RD.

  7. Speaking of Fox, Homer Simpson votes Mitt Romney: ‘But I’m a forty year old white guy who gets all his news from TV screens in gas stations!’ http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/homer-simpson-votes-mitt-romney-200602954–election.html

    The Simpsons, The Daily Show and The Onion are the only major media outlets allowed to tell anything remotely resembling the truth these days…

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