Saturday, September 22, 2007


Except to Leftists -- where it is these days "racist"

Where do moral rules come from? From reason, some philosophers say. From God, say believers. Seldom considered is a source now being advocated by some biologists, that of evolution. At first glance, natural selection and the survival of the fittest may seem to reward only the most selfish values. But for animals that live in groups, selfishness must be strictly curbed or there will be no advantage to social living. Could the behaviors evolved by social animals to make societies work be the foundation from which human morality evolved?

In a series of recent articles and a book, “The Happiness Hypothesis,” Jonathan Haidt, a moral psychologist at the University of Virginia, has been constructing a broad evolutionary view of morality that traces its connections both to religion and to politics. Dr. Haidt (pronounced height) began his research career by probing the emotion of disgust. Testing people’s reactions to situations like that of a hungry family that cooked and ate its pet dog after it had become roadkill, he explored the phenomenon of moral dumbfounding — when people feel strongly that something is wrong but cannot explain why.

Dumbfounding led him to view morality as driven by two separate mental systems, one ancient and one modern, though the mind is scarcely aware of the difference. The ancient system, which he calls moral intuition, is based on the emotion-laden moral behaviors that evolved before the development of language. The modern system — he calls it moral judgment — came after language, when people became able to articulate why something was right or wrong. The emotional responses of moral intuition occur instantaneously — they are primitive gut reactions that evolved to generate split-second decisions and enhance survival in a dangerous world. Moral judgment, on the other hand, comes later, as the conscious mind develops a plausible rationalization for the decision already arrived at through moral intuition. Moral dumbfounding, in Dr. Haidt’s view, occurs when moral judgment fails to come up with a convincing explanation for what moral intuition has decided.

So why has evolution equipped the brain with two moral systems when just one might seem plenty? “We have a complex animal mind that only recently evolved language and language-based reasoning,” Dr. Haidt said. “No way was control of the organism going to be handed over to this novel faculty.” He likens the mind’s subterranean moral machinery to an elephant, and conscious moral reasoning to a small rider on the elephant’s back. Psychologists and philosophers have long taken a far too narrow view of morality, he believes, because they have focused on the rider and largely ignored the elephant.

Dr. Haidt developed a better sense of the elephant after visiting India at the suggestion of an anthropologist, Richard Shweder. In Bhubaneswar, in the Indian state of Orissa, Dr. Haidt saw that people recognized a much wider moral domain than the issues of harm and justice that are central to Western morality. Indians were concerned with integrating the community through rituals and committed to concepts of religious purity as a way to restrain behavior. On his return from India, Dr. Haidt combed the literature of anthropology and psychology for ideas about morality throughout the world. He identified five components of morality that were common to most cultures. Some concerned the protection of individuals, others the ties that bind a group together.

Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or sanctity. The five moral systems, in Dr. Haidt’s view, are innate psychological mechanisms that predispose children to absorb certain virtues. Because these virtues are learned, morality may vary widely from culture to culture, while maintaining its central role of restraining selfishness. In Western societies, the focus is on protecting individuals by insisting that everyone be treated fairly. Creativity is high, but society is less orderly. In many other societies, selfishness is suppressed “through practices, rituals and stories that help a person play a cooperative role in a larger social entity,” Dr. Haidt said.

He is aware that many people — including “the politically homogeneous [Leftist] discipline of psychology” — equate morality with justice, rights and the welfare of the individual, and dismiss everything else as mere social convention. But many societies around the world do in fact behave as if loyalty, respect for authority and sanctity are moral concepts, Dr. Haidt notes, and this justifies taking a wider view of the moral domain. The idea that morality and sacredness are intertwined, he said, may now be out of fashion but has a venerable pedigree, tracing back to Emile Durkheim, a founder of sociology.

Dr. Haidt believes that religion has played an important role in human evolution by strengthening and extending the cohesion provided by the moral systems. “If we didn’t have religious minds we would not have stepped through the transition to groupishness,” he said. “We’d still be just small bands roving around.” Religious behavior may be the result of natural selection, in his view, shaped at a time when early human groups were competing with one another. “Those who found ways to bind themselves together were more successful,” he said.

Dr. Haidt came to recognize the importance of religion by a roundabout route. “I first found divinity in disgust,” he writes in his book “The Happiness Hypothesis". The emotion of disgust probably evolved when people became meat eaters and had to learn which foods might be contaminated with bacteria, a problem not presented by plant foods. Disgust was then extended to many other categories, he argues, to people who were unclean, to unacceptable sexual practices and to a wide class of bodily functions and behaviors that were seen as separating humans from animals. “Imagine visiting a town,” Dr. Haidt writes, “where people wear no clothes, never bathe, have sex ‘doggie style’ in public, and eat raw meat by biting off pieces directly from the carcass.” He sees the disgust evoked by such a scene as allied to notions of physical and religious purity. Purity is, in his view, a moral system that promotes the goals of controlling selfish desires and acting in a religiously approved way. Notions of disgust and purity are widespread outside Western cultures. “Educated liberals are the only group to say, ‘I find that disgusting but that doesn’t make it wrong,’ ” Dr. Haidt said.

Working with a graduate student, Jesse Graham, Dr. Haidt has detected a striking political dimension to morality. He and Mr. Graham asked people to identify their position on a liberal-conservative spectrum and then complete a questionnaire that assessed the importance attached to each of the five moral systems. (The test, called the moral foundations questionnaire, can be taken online, at They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals — those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity. Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.

Dr. Haidt believes that many political disagreements between liberals and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on the five moral categories. Take attitudes to contemporary art and music. Conservatives fear that subversive art will undermine authority, violate the in-group’s traditions and offend canons of purity and sanctity. Liberals, on the other hand, see contemporary art as protecting equality by assailing the establishment, especially if the art is by oppressed groups. Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give some weight to individual protections, they often have a better understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative attitudes, in his view.

Dr. Haidt, who describes himself as a moderate liberal, says that societies need people with both types of personality. “A liberal morality will encourage much greater creativity but will weaken social structure and deplete social capital,” he said. “I am really glad we have New York and San Francisco — most of our creativity comes out of cities like these. But a nation that was just New York and San Francisco could not survive very long. Conservatives give more to charity and tend to be more supportive of essential institutions like the military and law enforcement.”

Other psychologists have mixed views about Dr. Haidt’s ideas. Steven Pinker, a cognitive scientist at Harvard, said, “I’m a big fan of Haidt’s work.” He added that the idea of including purity in the moral domain could make psychological sense even if purity had no place in moral reasoning. But Frans B. M. de Waal, a primatologist at Emory University, said he disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s view that the task of morality is to suppress selfishness. Many animals show empathy and altruistic tendencies but do not have moral systems. “For me, the moral system is one that resolves the tension between individual and group interests in a way that seems best for the most members of the group, hence promotes a give and take,” Dr. de Waal said.

He said that he also disagreed with Dr. Haidt’s alignment of liberals with individual rights and conservatives with social cohesiveness. “It is obvious that liberals emphasize the common good — safety laws for coal mines, health care for all, support for the poor — that are not nearly as well recognized by conservatives,” Dr. de Waal said.

That alignment also bothers John T. Jost, a political psychologist at New York University. Dr. Jost said he admired Dr. Haidt as a “very interesting and creative social psychologist” and found his work useful in drawing attention to the strong moral element in political beliefs. But the fact that liberals and conservatives agree on the first two of Dr. Haidt’s principles — do no harm and do unto others as you would have them do unto you — means that those are good candidates to be moral virtues. The fact that liberals and conservatives disagree on the other three principles “suggests to me that they are not general moral virtues but specific ideological commitments or values,” Dr. Jost said.

In defense of his views, Dr. Haidt said that moral claims could be valid even if not universally acknowledged. “It is at least possible,” he said, “that conservatives and traditional societies have some moral or sociological insights that secular liberals do not understand.”


The Beeb finally fires a liar

Post below lifted from American Thinker. See the original for links

Well, you gotta hand it to the BBC -- they have high standards about telling the truth. While that may not be obvious from their endless slanders about the United States, their puff pieces for the fraudulent European Union, their bootlicking of Islamic fascists, their ceaseless promotion of Global Warming superstition, their blind promotion of the UN corruptocracy... Oops! ... where was I? Oh, yes ... the BBC has finally fired a producer for peddling lies on its august airwaves.

The Times Online has the story, headlined in large letters "Socks, the Blue Peter cat who could cost BBC staff their jobs."
"The television programme Blue Peter was accused yesterday of deceiving children for the second time in a year as the BBC removed staff blamed for a series of phone-in scandals that have damaged its credibility with the public."

"A former producer on the children's show, Britain's longest-running, has been suspended after it emerged that production staff had ignored the result of a viewer poll to choose a name for the Blue Peter cat last year."

"The suspension was disclosed a day after the BBC dismissed Leona McCambridge, a producer on Liz Kershaw's 6 Music programme, for gross misconduct. One of her bosses, Ric Blaxill, 6 Music head of programmes, is also believed to be under threat."
But -- this is not the first time the Beeb has admitted to being less than truthful.
"In July, the BBC admitted that Liz Kershaw's show ran a fake phone-in using production staff posing as members of the public in a recorded programme that pretended to be live. The fake phone-ins, supposedly featuring listeners competing for prizes, ran from 2005 until December 2006."
The Biased BBC website quotes a BBC insider as explaining,
" The feeling has always been that when alleged deception involves children it is a bit more serious."
I'm speechless.

What the Muslim Brotherhood means for the U.S.

"Our strategy is this," President Bush said last month. "We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America." He was talking about jihadists, of course. And Mr. Bush is behind the curve. The president apparently missed the smoking-gun 1991 document his own Justice Department introduced into evidence at the Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas. The FBI captured it in a raid on a Muslim suspect's home in Virginia.

This "explanatory memorandum," as it's titled, outlines the "strategic goal" for the North American operation of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan). Here's the key paragraph:

The process of settlement [of Islam in the United States] is a "Civilization-Jihadist" process with all the word means. The Ikhwan must understand that all their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and "sabotaging" their miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim's destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who choose to slack.

The entire 18-page platform outlines a plan for the long haul. It prescribes the Muslim Brotherhood's comprehensive plan to set down roots in civil society. It begins by both founding and taking control of American Muslim organizations, for the sake of unifying and educating the U.S. Muslim community - this to prepare it for the establishment of a global Islamic state governed by sharia.

It sounds like a conspiracy theory out of a bad Hollywood movie - but it's real. Husain Haqqani, head of Boston University's Center for International Relations and a former Islamic radical, confirms that the Brotherhood "has run most significant Muslim organizations in the U.S." as part of the plan outlined in the strategy paper.

The HLF trial is exposing for the first time how the international Muslim Brotherhood - whose Palestinian division is Hamas - operates as a self-conscious revolutionary vanguard in the United States. The court documents indicate that many leading Muslim-American organizations - including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the Muslim American Society - are an integral part of the Brotherhood's efforts to wage jihad against America by nonviolent means.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an affiliation of at least 70 Islamist organizations around the world, all tracing their heritage to the original cell, founded in Egypt in 1928. Its credo: "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Quran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope." Sayyid Qutb, hanged by the Egyptian government in 1966 as a revolutionary, remains its ideological godfather. His best-known work, Milestones, calls for Muslims to wage violent holy war until Islamic law governs the entire world.

According to a 2004 Chicago Tribune investigation, establishing the Brotherhood in the United States has been a 40-year project that has worked mostly underground - even beneath the notice of many Muslims. Richard Clarke, the former top U.S. national security official, told the Senate in 2003 that the Muslim Brotherhood is the common thread linking terrorist fundraising schemes in the United States - which likely explains why so many mainstream American Muslim organizations were named by the feds as "unindicted co-conspirators" in the HLF trial.

Is this just alarmist paranoia? Not at all.

This matters because high-profile organizations with roots explicitly in the Muslim Brotherhood have successfully established themselves in a paramount position to define Islam in America according to a radical politicized model. And they've done so without the American public having the slightest idea about their real agenda. Indeed, the Bush administration is unwittingly helping the Islamist cause by including their leaders in public events, thus conferring them legitimacy. On Labor Day weekend, the same Department of Justice that's presenting evidence of the ISNA's involvement with radical Islam at the Dallas trial sponsored a booth at - wait for it - ISNA's national convention in suburban Chicago.

Look, no rational person believes America is going to exchange the Constitution for a caliphate.

Rational people aren't the point. As the London subway bombings showed, even a tiny cell of committed radicals can kill a lot of people. Mustafa Saied, an American Muslim who left the Brotherhood, told the Tribune that he worried about the radicalism the Brotherhood inculcated in its membership here. "With the extreme element," he said, "you never know when that ticking time bomb will go off."

As long as they commit no crimes, CAIR, ISNA and the other Brotherhood-related groups have the right to advocate for their beliefs. But they don't have the right to escape critical scrutiny, and they deserve informed opposition. Courageous Muslims like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy are sounding the alarm about radical Islam's stealth takeover of U.S. Muslim institutions. Why are the news media ignoring this? Fear of being called Islamophobic?

This has got to stop. Six years after 9/11, we're still asleep. Islamic radicals have declared war on us - and some are fighting here in what looks like a fifth column. Read their strategy document. It's there in black and white, for those with eyes to see.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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