Friday, December 4, 2015

Our Oh So Moral Society, Part 1 (and a little more on the 1950s and other stuff)

Hi everyone,

I'm back with another Human Behavior essay and in this one we will be discussing morality and why I think we are living in one of the most "moral" times in human history.

Before I begin, let's revisit the first two essays in this series:

Lie Spotting or "Yes, you've been lied to...and you probably liked it"

Generalizations: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly, and the 1950s

Now how do the topics of lie spotting and generalizations fit in with morality and the supposed moral behaviors of humanoids? Well, plenty.

First in my lie spotting essay, I brought in Pamela Meyer's TED Talk on the subject (and if you haven't watched Ms. Meyer's TED Talk, I definitely encourage it. I have it posted at the beginning of my lie spotting essay). In that essay, I discussed how in order for a lie to effectively happen, there has to be two willing participants: the one doing the lying, and the one being lied to. It happens everyday because we are lied to everyday. Whether it's by friends, family members, politicians (especially key right now in the U.S. since we are about to go through yet another round of presidential elections), the media, or anything else that might serve to tell people what they want to here. I also brought up how we are at our most vulnerable when we are being told what we want to hear. This could be part of why people tend to become so passionate and angry during the timeframe of an election or right before a major bill (i.e. healthcare reform, marriage equality, etc) passes. People want to believe that their politicians care and that they are not just being 'thrown a small bone' and being humored or purposefully divided while said politicians laugh all the way to the bank. And maybe some politicians do really care, but knowing how to spot a liar can be quite useful when it comes to upping your bullshit barometer.
As Meyer states: you cannot eradicate all the liars of the world, but what you CAN do, is arm yourself with knowledge and the ability to spot a liar as a way of making yourself less vulnerable, decreasing your chances of being taken advantage of later on feeling like a damn fool. Unfortunately, people do like being lied to, even if they claim they do not.

Now let's move on to generalizations. In this essay, I discussed how humans like to generalize things and people. I also brought in an article written by Hans Blueborn of the website Fallacy Detective to help explain different ways humans tend to generalize. Sometimes, generalizing is helpful while other times it can do much more harm than good. People tend to generalize base on their personal experiences and/or the experiences of their loved ones. As humans, many of us tend to go on the belief that "if I experienced things a certain way and my peers did as well," then that must be the case across the board. I'm not sure if people realize that they do this (and I'm sure most don't), but I find this to be quite frequent in my interactions and discussions with people. Many don't seem to take into account that "my lived experience calls your lived experience bullshit."
Evidence based on personal experience makes up what is known as anecdotal evidence. And here is what Wikipedia has to say about anecdotal evidence:

Anecdotal evidence is evidence from anecdotes. Where only one or a few anecdotes are presented, there is a larger chance that they may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases.[1][2] Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a generalized claim; it is, however, within the scope of scientific method for claims regarding particular instances, for example the use of case studies in medicine.

So in other words, anecdotal evidence - while okay for use as a starting point for further research - should not be used as a 'be all, end all'. And using it as such can be quite dangerous.
Now with keeping all that in mind, I also brought the 1950s into the mix in my generalizations essay, simply because I am fascinated with our current society's love/hate relationship with that particular decade. People tend to either completely romanticize it or completely demonize it. It seems that very rarely will you find someone with a happy medium approach to it.
At the end of my lie spotting essay, I asked you to really think of where you are most vulnerable. What is it about yourself that you want to hear the most? Then at the end of the generalizations essay I asked you to think about the following scenario:
Two individuals, now in their seventies, are discussing growing up in the 1950s to their millennial generation grandchildren.
One of these individuals says the following (and keep in mind, what these grandparents say will very likely shape how the grandchild views the era in question):

"When I was growing up, people were hard-working and did what needed to be done to support the family, whether it was outside or inside the home. Children were able to run outside and play in the streets until it was dark outside without really having to worry about things like drive-by shootings. There was more of a sense of family and community then there is today and back then, marriage was forever, people read more instead of being glued to the television for hours at a time, and kids actually did their chores and had respect for their elders. People were also accepting and kind to one another. Not rude like you see today."

Now the other individual says the following:

"In the 50s, it was not uncommon for a man to beat his wife and children nearly to death. Women were prisoners in their homes and were also often raped and sexually abused by their husbands, with no consequence for the husband. Victim blaming was everywhere and women were also denied education. It was also considered respectable to look down on someone what wasn't white. I'm so glad those days are over."

Now with the info in this blogpost and the concept of lie spotting in mind, really give this some thought. Which hypothetical grandparent is right and which is wrong? Or is either right or wrong?

Now after thinking about all that, what answers did you come up with? Or, did you come up with any?

With all that in mind, let's move on to morality.
Now a week ago, I discussed a little about my research on witchcraft in early America, along with debunking a few historical myths. My reasons for doing this is A.) because I find history and the parts that don't get discussed quite fascinating, and B.) I have noticed that when someone states something that they heard, be it on the topic of history, politics, or what have you, many people fail to ask the question, "well according to whom?" Instead, many tend to simply say "oh yeah, I've heard that" and not question. And we've all been guilty of this at times. I have also found that, particularly with history, people just love to look back in time, pick apart things (whether justified or unjustified), cluck their tongues while pointing out everything that's wrong (again, whether justified or unjustified) while saying "thankfully we are more enlightened" which is pretty much a fancy way of saying "haha, we're better."
As I was reading an article from Mary Miley Theobald's website, History Myths Debunked, one person's comment in the comment section on a post struck me. Unfortunately, I forget which article the comment was made on (bookmark pages, dammit), but the person commenting was - in my opinion - right on the money. To summarize, the person mentioned how people choose to believe historical myths and make assumptions on how times were for every living person based on those myths (Tiffany's note: there's lie spotting and generalizing for you right there) because no matter how bad their lives are or how bad things are in current society, "at least we're not living in a time when people didn't bathe, men were allowed to beat and rape their wives, people were dropping dead by age 30, people burned strong outspoken women as witches," etc. and so on.
Now as Ms. Theobald and some of her guest bloggers state, when it comes to history, it's almost always "more complicated than that" and that is also what I try to stress in my own postings on history, as well as other subjects. Some myths do have a kernel of truth within, while others are true but vary according to time period and geography. Others are just completely fabricated without any basis in fact whatsoever.
As I did my research on this topic, I found that the term 'moral' or 'morality' is often intertwined with the words 'superior,' 'ego', and 'narcissist.'

Since this is such a heavy topic, I will stop it here and in Part 2, I will get into the psychology behind it all. I also leave you with yet another assignment or something to think about before next time. In getting back to the 1950s, why is it that people will spend time picking apart shows like Leave It To Beaver and looking for all the 'wrong' things to point out, but won't say a single word about films like Right Cross, a film from the year 1950 starring Ricardo Montalban, June Allyson, and Dick Powell. Or if you bring up things like the latter film, the person ranting about the 1950s tends to just derail the conversation.

There's much more I could go into, but I will leave it here for now and get into more in part 2 of this topic. In closing, I leave you with this meme from Pinterest:

Have a lovely evening, everyone. :D


History Myths Debunked:

Anecdotal Evidence:

Generalizations by Hans Blueborn, Fallacy Detective 

Pamela Meyer's Website: 

My Blogpost, "More Interesting Witch Trial Finds or Morality: An Intro" with references


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