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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.

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