In Which We Recommend You Become A Better Person
Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 12:41PM

Screwed No Matter What You Do

by Alex Carnevale

Molly posted this article by Robin Nixon on her tumblr, which I felt was amoral, so I'm posting it here. Robin Nixon:

A recent study presented people with two tasks. One was described as tedious and time-consuming; the other, easy and brief. The subjects were asked to assign each task to either themselves or the next participant. They could do this independently or defer to a computer, which would assign the tasks randomly.

Eighty-five percent of 42 subjects passed up the computer’s objectivity and assigned themselves the short task – leaving the laborious one to someone else. Furthermore, they thought their decision was fair. However, when 43 other subjects watched strangers make the same decision, they thought it unjust.

The researchers then “constrained cognition” by asking subjects to memorize long strings of numbers. In this greatly distracted state, subjects became impartial. They thought their own transgressions were just as terrible as those of others.

This suggests that we are intuitively moral beings, but “when we are given time to think about it, we construct arguments about why what we did wasn’t that bad,” said lead researcher Piercarlo Valdesolo, who conducted this study.

So why do we choose to judge ourselves so leniently? We have a lot wrapped up in preserving a positive self-image, said Valdesolo, and thus are loathe to admit, even to ourselves, that we sometimes behave immorally.

A flattering self-image is correlated with rewards, such as emotional stability, increased motivation and perseverance. “It is a very functional part of our psychology, but it is not always a desirable one.”

tracie pays a male prostitute to r her

Is it wrong to steal Molly's topic, even though she does it to me all the time, and bitched me out hard for calling Wall·E, Puss·E?

that is one cute robot

How about if I start posting pictures of her, or pictures of Slut Machine with captions that said, "Molly wanted me to post this"?

When am I crossing the line here?

Answer: probably when I get an e-mail from Molly being like, "WTF on that post. Also did you see this article on Oh No They Didn't? Unrelated: did you see Osmosis Jones? It may be Chris Rock's finest moment."

molly told me to post this

I got this e-mail on the controversy:

Even with as much as I hate Moe and think she really might be a patriarchy-inclined, mail order bride from Eastern Europe on qualudes sent over to the U.S. to reinvigorate the gender roles of the medieval Russian feudal system, it's wrong to bash women.

I wrote back,

I think I feel the same way about Norman Podhoretz that you do about Moe.

I understand what you mean though, I really don't like attacking women either although I dutifully do it just because I don't want to be a misogynist. It's amazing how everything in the end just benefits the patriarchy.

Whose life would you save?

I would also marry Slut Machine, vacations would be so fun. It would also probably help with my New Year's Resolution to be more scandalous.

Somehow this ended up in one of the comment threads:

I once dated a guy who lived in Brooklyn - it was a long distance thing and I was insanely giddy about his talent, his charm and his humor. I so very very very dug this guy. Then I flew out to stay with him for a few days, and walked into his place all smitten as hell. He flipped on the lights and the cockroaches were everywhere - all over the walls, the bed, the floor, the tables. It was unbelievable. Now maybe he couldn’t help it. Maybe it was just the building, his neighbors, the visitors he had who let the bugs in. Maybe the only thing he could have done to remedy the situation was move to a new place. My decision was to stick it out and stay there - after all, I was in serious smit. And you know what? A few months later he broke my heart into pieces. I look back on that trip now and wonder if I should have paid more attention to those damn cockroaches.

They should call BK, "Lower Expectations," like "Lower New Jersey."

Everyone has their drunk days. Mondays!

egan getting a colonic


Morality of Star Trek

When morality is hard to like

The fashion in moral psychology is changing

“We began to realize that for our existence to hold any value it must end. To live meaningful lives we must die, and not return. The one human flaw, that you spend your lifetimes distressing over - mortality - is the one thing…well, it’s the one thing that makes you whole.”

- Natalie-Six on Battlestar Galactica.

Architecture and Morality

Is there a moral instinct?

Whose life would you save?

Morality and monogamy

Morality wiki

Laurie David wants to save the penguins

Remembering Thomas Disch

Everything you know about morality is wrong, and also, your skin produces a marijuana like substance.

Danish has a band?

"No Regrets" - King Khan and the Shrines (mp3)

"Outta Harm's Way" - King Khan and the Shrines (mp3)

"I Wanna Be A Girl" - King Khan and the Shrines (mp3)

"Crackin' Up" - King Khan and the Shrines (mp3)

Is it moral or amoral to post these songs?

Sartre tells of a student whose brother had been killed in the German offensive of 1940. The student wanted to avenge his brother and to fight forces that he regarded as evil. But the student's mother was living with him, and he was her one consolation in life. The student believed that he had conflicting obligations. Sartre describes him as being torn between two kinds of morality: one of limited scope but certain efficacy, personal devotion to his mother; the other of much wider scope but uncertain efficacy, attempting to contribute to the defeat of an unjust aggressor.

Moral dilemmas:

In 1842, a ship struck an iceberg and more than 30 survivors were crowded into a lifeboat intended to hold 7. As a storm threatened, it became obvious that the lifeboat would have to be lightened if anyone were to survive. The captain reasoned that the right thing to do in this situation was to force some individuals to go over the side and drown. Such an action, he reasoned, was not unjust to those thrown overboard, for they would have drowned anyway. If he did nothing, however, he would be responsible for the deaths of those whom he could have saved. Some people opposed the captain's decision. They claimed that if nothing were done and everyone died as a result, no one would be responsible for these deaths.

On the other hand, if the captain attempted to save some, he could do so only by killing others and their deaths would be his responsibility; this would be worse than doing nothing and letting all die. The captain rejected this reasoning. Since the only possibility for rescue required great efforts of rowing, the captain decided that the weakest would have to be sacrificed. In this situation it would be absurd, he thought, to decide by drawing lots who should be thrown overboard. As it turned out, after days of hard rowing, the survivors were rescued and the captain was tried for his action. If you had been on the jury, how would you have decided?

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.


egan and dr. ruth

We gave you a groups of links that you shall never forget for all your days on earth.

Our dating correspondent told you the sad tale of a New Hampshire hottie.

Diane Williams is the genius of the western world.

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