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Debates Forum

  1. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    28 Sep '10 14:50
    Interesting paper on moral preferences and variations on 'the trolley problem', linked from a Wired article. Not one for those who 'don't like thought experiments', get narky with hypotheticals or consider research findings in psychology to be meaningless. You know who you are.

    "Participants received one of two scenarios involving an individual who has to decide whether or not to throw a large man in the path of a trolley (described as large enough that he would stop the progress of the trolley) in order to prevent the trolley from killing 100 innocent individual strapped in a bus.

    Half of the participants received a version of the scenario where the agent could choose to sacrifice an individual named “Tyrone Payton” to save 100 members of the New York Philharmonic, and the other half received a version where the agent could choose to sacrifice “Chip Ellsworth III” to save 100 members of the Harlem Jazz Orchestra. In both scenarios the individual decides to throw the person onto the trolley tracks...

    While we did not provide specific information about the race of the individuals in the scenario, we reasoned that Chip and Tyrone were stereotypically associated with White American and Black American individuals respectively, and that the New York Philharmonic would be assumed to be majority White, and the Harlem Jazz Orchestra would be assumed to be majority Black...

    Turned out the racial identities did indeed, ah, color peoples’ judgments, but it colored them differently depending on their political bent. Pizarro, who describes himself as a person who “would probably be graded a liberal on tests,” roughly expected that liberals would be more consistent. Yet liberals proved just as prejudiced here as conservatives were, but in reverse: While self-described conservatives more readily accepted the sacrifice of Tyrone than they did killing Chip, the liberals were easier about seeing Chip sacrificed than Tyrone."

    Experiment repeated with larger group reached similar conclusions.

    Wired article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/09/kill-whitey-its-the-right-thing-to-do/

    Paper: http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~baron/journal/9616/jdm9616.html
  2. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    28 Sep '10 15:09 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by DrKF
    Yet liberals proved just as prejudiced here as conservatives were, but in reverse: While self-described conservatives more readily accepted the sacrifice of Tyrone than they did killing Chip, the liberals were easier about seeing Chip sacrificed than Tyrone.
    This seems wrong. In the paper the conservatives did not show a statistically significant difference in favouring Chip over Tyrone.
  3. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    28 Sep '10 15:18
    Originally posted by Palynka
    This seems wrong. In the paper the conservatives did not show a statistically significant difference in favouring Chip over Tyrone.
    Indeed it does - I am working my way through the actual paper now...

    Indeed, from the abstract to the paper itself: "Political liberals, but not relatively more conservative participants, were more likely to endorse consequentialism when the victim had a stereotypically White American name than when the victim had a stereotypically Black American name"

    And then from the paper: "liberals (but not relatively more conservative participants) show[ed] differential endorsement of moral principles across scenarios... More conservative participants... did not give reliably different endorsements of consequentialism across scenario versions."

    Great paper, less so the journalism!
  4. 28 Sep '10 15:25
    Are you saying the majority would sacrifice one individual to save 100, or ALL said that they would do so?
  5. 28 Sep '10 15:26 / 1 edit
    oops----heavy thumb syndrome
  6. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    28 Sep '10 15:29
    Originally posted by Palynka
    This seems wrong. In the paper the conservatives did not show a statistically significant difference in favouring Chip over Tyrone.
    Very interesting. In Study 1a, it seems that only liberals show significant prejudice -- against whites:

    "However, this was qualified by the expected condition x political orientation interaction, with liberals (but not relatively more conservative participants) showing differential endorsement of moral principles across scenarios, b = .20, SE = .09, t(84) = 2.26, p = .03 (see Figure 1). Specifically, liberals (defined as 1 SD below the mean; Aiken & West, 1991) were more likely to endorse a consequentialist justification when the victim had a stereotypically White name than when the victim had a stereotypically Black name, b = −.40, SE = .12, t = 3.27, p = .002. More conservative participants (1 SD above the mean) did not give reliably different endorsements of consequentialism across scenario versions, b = .01, SE = .13, t = .09, p = .93."

    Discussion:

    "For instance, our liberal participants may believe that the life of a Black man actually should count for more than that of a White man (e.g., because of past injustices). While our pre-test data casts doubt on this hypothesis, this issue seemed important enough to warrant further investigation."
  7. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    28 Sep '10 15:31
    Originally posted by DrKF
    Indeed it does - I am working my way through the actual paper now...

    Indeed, from the abstract to the paper itself: "Political liberals, but not relatively more conservative participants, were more likely to endorse consequentialism when the victim had a stereotypically White American name than when the victim had a stereotypically Black American name"

    A ...[text shortened]... ments of consequentialism across scenario versions."

    Great paper, less so the journalism!
    Yes, it seems the journalists are drawing conclusions that they THINK should be true and are ignoring the actual results.

    That's so common there is a word for it: "cognative dissonance." Or "no matter what the data says, my conclusion remains unaltered from what it was before the experiment"!
  8. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    28 Sep '10 15:33 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by spruce112358
    Yes, it seems the journalists are drawing conclusions that they THINK should be true and are ignoring the actual results.

    That's so common there is a word for it: "cognative dissonance." Or "no matter what the data says, my conclusion remains unaltered from what it was before the experiment"!
    Journalist reports on scientific papers are usually very poor. If the topic interests you, you should always try to read the paper if possible. It's not always easy but, trust me, the journalist is not more knowledgeable than you on reading such papers and is looking for the headline, not the facts.
  9. Standard member spruce112358
    Democracy Advocate
    28 Sep '10 15:34
    Originally posted by Palynka
    Journalist reports on scientific papers are usually very poor. If the topic interests you, you should always try to read the paper if possible. It's not always easy but, trust me, the journalist is not more knowledgeable than you on reading such papers and is looking for the headline, not the facts.
    I agree totally. I always go for the paper.
  10. Standard member DrKF
    incipit parodia
    28 Sep '10 15:36 / 1 edit
    You'll love this piece from the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1
  11. Standard member Palynka
    Upward Spiral
    28 Sep '10 15:40
    Originally posted by DrKF
    You'll love this piece from yesterday's Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/the-lay-scientist/2010/sep/24/1
  12. 28 Sep '10 15:50 / 4 edits
    this probably reflects a tendency among liberals to obsess about their thoughts along the lines of: "I know that I probably have subconscious prejudices against blacks - so I need to make absolutely sure I'm not acting in any way that would treat blacks unfairly -- hmmm Tyrone...he's probably black...I don't want to be a person who'd throw a black person under the bus..no, that would be racist...etc etc"

    But there are the possibilities of confounding factors:

    1. Perhaps liberals are more likely to associate the name "Tyrone" with a black person and-or the name "Chip" with a white person? -- while conservatives did not make these associations?
    2. Perhaps liberals are more likely to greatly prefer jazz music to classical (and thus be eager to save the jazz group's members).
    3. Perhaps liberals take these sorts of psychological experiments a lot more seriously than conservatives? (the latter thus being more likely to just say "whatever" and choose randomly.)

    this last one gets to the root of any attempt to scientifically study political views:

    if you gather a sample of conservatives to voluntarily participate in a scientific study -- it can never be a truly random sample of conservatives - since by definition, you've eliminated those conservatives that have little respect or interest in the scientific process. (same argument would apply for samples of liberals).
  13. 29 Sep '10 08:54
    What was the race of those polled?
  14. 29 Sep '10 11:33 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by DrKF
    . Yet liberals proved just as prejudiced here as conservatives were,
    In the immortal words of Harry Reid, the problem seems to have been that he was not a light skinned negro.
  15. 29 Sep '10 15:30
    Originally posted by DrKF
    Indeed it does - I am working my way through the actual paper now...

    Indeed, from the abstract to the paper itself: "Political liberals, but not relatively more conservative participants, were more likely to endorse consequentialism when the victim had a stereotypically White American name than when the victim had a stereotypically Black American name"

    A ...[text shortened]... ments of consequentialism across scenario versions."

    Great paper, less so the journalism!
    I have to say, the results don't surprise me. I've been reading the NY Times for years and have seen how liberals think and cite different principles depending on who benefits and who suffers.

    They are also absolutely convinced that you cannot be conservative without being racist. So much so that the writer of this wired article could not even read plain English in the abstract of the paper he was reporting on. His only "surprise" was that the liberals were biased.