April 12, 2014

Sense of justice is not emotional but fully driven by reason

This may be highly counter-intuitive because we culturally associate this sense of justice with idealism or, as Che Guevara put it, with being driven by superior feelings of love for fellow humans.

Actually it has nothing to do with it but with greater rational function, brain scans show.

Keith J. Yoder & Jean Decety, The Good, the Bad, and the Just: Justice Sensitivity Predicts Neural Response during Moral Evaluation of Actions Performed by Others. Journal of Neuroscience 2014. Pay per viewLINK [doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4648-13.2014]

A copy of the study has been uploaded by co-author J. Decety to academia.edu.

Complementary source: press release.

From the latter:
During the behavior-evaluation exercise, people with high justice sensitivity showed more activity than average participants in parts of the brain associated with higher-order cognition. Brain areas commonly linked with emotional processing were not affected.

The conclusion was clear, Decety said: “Individuals who are sensitive to justice and fairness do not seem to be emotionally driven. Rather, they are cognitively driven.”
According to Decety, one implication is that the search for justice and the moral missions of human rights organizations and others do not come primarily from sentimental motivations, as they are often portrayed. Instead, that drive may have more to do with sophisticated analysis and mental calculation.

This may explain why there is a well known positive correlation between intelligence and leftism: fairness is simply more rational.


  1. Maju,
    I wouldn’t really comment on this sort stuff. Stick to what you know, right?
    Just to say that F-MRI, bold, etc. studies aren’t really painting people on the left as in any sort of way “better” than people on the right of the political spectrum.
    Much so on the contrary – They are simple (as oppose to complex) human beings truly incapable of fomenting moral foundation beyond the normative and prescriptive ones (care/harm – Fairness/cheating). Simple the descriptive foundations are the ones that “binding” us to things... well… not really good (unless North Korea is a model for you).

    Will not dwell much on this, but just a few corrections:
    a) There are really no studies which portrait liberals as more intelligent than conservatives. That is just hogwash. Actually Since fredericks, 2005 that we know that on CRT (cognitive reflection testing – were you see really intelligent people) conservatives are actually slightly better at it than liberals. – So, don’t really go there,
    b) Then, must remember that what Haidt has found out is that liberals mainly operate with those two prescriptive ethical and moral pillars, as conservative really deal all the five (or six) cards of the moral deck… conservatives also value Care/harm and fairness/cheat very high… is just that they seem to also understand the rest of the game (the other 3!)

    Having said that, I agree that people on the left and people on the right actually operate mainly, or preferably, on very different neural pathways and that should not be underestimated.
    I personally think that People on the left love to live on the IAD pathway ( Insula, ACC and Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) as people on the right live on the AVO (Amygdala, Ventromedial prefrontal cortex and orbidrontal cortex)… but that would be a very long story.

    So, any news on DNA outputs for the perdigões findings?

    1. All I said was that there is a well known positive correlation between rationality (IQ) and leftism and that this may be related to the results of the study because (implicit) both factors are equally pro-justice and IMO probably one and the same in essence.

      Now you're telling me stuff that is not from this study but somewhere else I imagine. I can't judge without the reference but you talk about. It seems most strange what you claim but it's impossible to judge without references.

      One thing that you do mention is "morals", which is irreflexive law-like education (cultural super-ego, I guess). This only applies to religious people, generally unable to think freely an build their own ETHICS critically and dynamically, not because some imaginary "god" is said in some legend to have commanded something, but because it is LOGICAL and good for all.

      People with passive morals cheat, sin and make up ways for pseudo-ammendment such as Catholic confession. People with proactive ethics are in fact more "moral" (ethical) most of the time (but of course it depends on individuals). If something goes wrong, an ethical person should review his/her ethics but cannot deceive oneself into the religious zig-zag of sin and repentance and more sin, something I find plainly idiotic, as if those people would only have "half a soul" (psyche) instead of a whole one.

      Then you talk about liberals and conservatives: two aspects of the same right wing. Not a single mention to the only real left: socialism and particularly communism, ideologies dedicated to the establishment of social justice and fairness. In my mind the difference between a liberal and a conservative is that the first one goes more to the stock market and the second one to the church but they are perfectly interchangeable.

      But using the twisted US anti-red and reactionary political scheme. I quote from the Daily Mail (no time for a larger search right now, sorry):

      So right-wingers are stupid – it’s official. Psychologists in Canada have compared IQ scores of several thousand British children, who were born in 1958 and 1970, with their stated views as adults on things such as treatment of criminals and openness to working with or living near to people of other races. They also looked at some US data which compared IQ scores with homophobic attitudes.

      The conclusion: your intelligence as a child correlates strongly with socially liberal views. People with low IQs tend to be more in favour of harsh punishments, more homophobic and more likely to be racist. Interestingly, as these were IQ scores measured when young this does seem to be a measure of something innate, not merely exposure to ‘liberal’ views through education

      I can surely find better sources but right now it's enough because of my time constraints. Smarter people tend to challenge the system, less brilliant ones tend to be conformist or even to defend the system as it is, even when clearly evil. Naturally this establishes a balance to the general tendency to increase intelligence by favoring people who are at least moderately conformist and hence not so bright.

      This is probably just a matter of self-confidence on one's intellectual capabilities: less bright people are more easily swayed into what they are told, more intelligent ones really not.

      There is also a clear positive correlation with agnosticism/atheism and anti-prejudice. Another factor I discussed in this blog is that conservatives have a larger amygdala on average, so they are more easily swayed by emotional drives, notably fear and social pressure.

      "I agree that people on the left and people on the right actually operate mainly, or preferably, on very different neural pathways and that should not be underestimated".

      That's dynamic equilibrium.

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  2. These findings are often sketchy, but it seems plausible. Most people who talk about justice don't often seem to actually have much empathy and are pretty good at acting in an empathy free fashion.

    I could see that those concerned with "justice" don't necessarily have much more or less cognitive or emotional understanding of others (empathy), yet develop elaborate moral rules, want to talk a lot about right and wrong, and are quick to be judgmental with praise and blame. They wouldn't necessarily don't feel other people's pain, but are happy to label acts as good or bad (possibly not always a useful behavior). It would be more about categorization to them, sorting the world into good and bad acts and rules.

    Many people with justice concerns do seem to be like highly intelligent psychopaths, empathy free, especially those who are most concerned with fighting the "enemies of justice". Any sort of human conflict embracing mindset makes sense as being low empathy and low compassion to a degree.

    1. I wouldn't either argue for justice-oriented people to be less empathic or less emotional, just that (judging on these results) the emotional element seems to matter less or even nothing at all when judging and feeling repulsion for injustice. Injustice (as, for example, someone kicking a beggar's can) is purely irrational (and surely caused by high emotionality and low rationality itself) and it's probably this irrationality what hurts some people's feelings.

      How is this different from empathy? I'm not really sure. Maybe empathy is not emotional or emotional only either. Emotions after all are (basically) instincts and they centrally refer to the individual needs (or at most their most simple social network such as family and close friends): fear is reaction to perceived danger, sadness to subjective loss, rage to perceived injustice, affection to perceived support, happiness to subjective well-being. But putting oneself on someone else's shoes, even for a moment, may require abstraction, even if it is intuitive and not formal reasoning.

      A good question would be: what is intuition (in which I would include empathy)? Is it something emotional or is it semi-consciously rational? Or a mix of both? Or does it depend on the individual? Not everything rational is fully conscious or "formal", as when we articulate an idea or thought, a lot of our thinking is under that level of consciousness (the mind just does its job and you don't know exactly how - but that is not the same as emotional).

      "Many people with justice concerns do seem to be like highly intelligent psychopaths, empathy free, especially those who are most concerned with fighting the "enemies of justice"".

      Not sure. It would require another study to properly gauge this claim. In general I do not think that is the case but, for whatever you may be right, it may well be a matter of priorities rather than mere empathy. It's plausible that for many people the immediate network (a basic social extension of the self) is the most important aspect of social life and that for people with greater standards of justice this immediate network loses relevance in comparison with the greater socius, which may feel too abstract and distant for the common person.

      But is this engagement with the small social network true empathy or rather a (quite natural) expanded selfishness? Obviously the self does not end with my own but my allies are also important. Some people may however, especially in our complex urban and even global societies, perceive that the small social network is not enough at all and that the problems are unavoidably to be addressed at a higher (larger) level of social organization than one's personal network.

      I guess that they may, at least sometimes, go overboard with that. And I guess that may be subject to criticism and perceived as lack of empathy. But I would say it's just that the center of social attention is displaced to a higher or larger tier.

      One could well also say that the lack of communion with those outside one's immediate social circle is another form of lack of empathy. There's probably two sides to this issue and two different levels of empathy and allegiance that may not always be compatible or at the very least need an effort to be conciliated, but by both types of personalities: because ones may be neglecting their close social network but the others are also neglecting the higher (expanded) social reality and depriving themselves and their circles of achievements at this level, so important in civilization.

      Surely these conflicts did not exist so much in the hunter-gatherer period when the larger and the smaller social networks were not that different.

  3. Maju,
    I truly think that you make too much of a couple thinks that you don’t really know. First let’s get the study out of the way:
    The study just says that sense of justice evokes nodes of the DLPFC. And my reply to this study could actually be--- no shit, Sherlock!
    Specially because the study is about witnessing something on a video. Since is “non-self-referential” it evokes the DLPFC (close to the heart of Lefties) to make a judgment. Probably if it had being designed to solicit a “self-referential appraisal” it would also evolve the VMPFC and OFC (close to the heart of righties). - But… jumping from this studies to make claims about IQ, justice and being a communist is a very long stretch, something akin as to calling your attention to a Lamp flickering and saying, see, the sun is going to go supernova tonight.

    What we can generally and far more safely infer than you did with IQ an so forth is that, those who scored higher in this aversion to this sort of injustice are more prone to vote on the left. So these persons are close to the pathway Insula-ACC-DLPFC. So those same persons are more prone (much more) to be driven by ENVY (usually studied in conjunction with Schadenfreude) and have an incredible easiness on being hypocritical (resolution of cognitive dissonances). Furthermore their empathy is more of the affective way (the feel others pain) but not necessarily TOM (theory of mind) that means rationally seeing things from the perspective of others. They perceive the world in a much more interoceptive way (feel better their internal organs, pain, breathing , heart beat) better known has having a Gut feeling (Insula) as oppose to those righties that have a hypersensitive Amygdala hence have a Six sense.
    Not being close to the elicitation of the VMPFC and OFC (like the righties) they actually always talk about this sort of concept on an abstract way (abstracta – something that does not exist in space and time) and actually whatever they are postulating isn’t really meant to be applied to them (not self – referential).

    See, this is a Leftie in a nut shell. The more on the left one is the more so one is.

    1. "Probably if it had being designed to solicit a “self-referential appraisal” it would also evolve the VMPFC and OFC (close to the heart of righties)".

      Maybe (unsure). They probably chose a non-self-referential reference in order to better gauge the general sense of justice and not that of selfish outrage, which is probably a different kind of animal.

      Said that, I don't think that "lefties" are less able to become angered or outraged when it affects their own persons or micro-socius. In my experience it is the other way around if anything. What I do notice is that "righties" are less inclined to take risks to solve such offenses in most cases, and that may correlate with their tendency to have an oversized amygdala.

      One of the reasons my (quite conservative) father and I don't get along is because I would have acted under aggression against our family, while he prefers to calculate the risks and possible gains and mostly drop the fight before any possible risk, real or imaginary, happens. This is not related to intelligence (my dad is quite bright too) but may be related to socio-political orientation, something on what we are very different.

      As he would put it: I'd rather "bump my head against a wall" than resign to imposition. He instead yields against injustice even against himself and his most intimate circle. It may be more complex than just left and right but there is something about rebelliousness and conformism. There may be "rebels" in the right (especially in the far right) and "conformists" in the left (especially in the moderate left).

      " But… jumping from this studies to make claims about IQ, justice and being a communist is a very long stretch"...

      Initially I just wrote a line on that and it is you who is extending on it. I did so mostly as referential link to previous studies that show that there are some brain processing and IQ patterns associated to socio-political attitudes. In the case of IQ, it is clear that there is a negative correlation with prejudice (racism, sexism, etc.) and superstition (religion), as well as with conservative ideological alignment. This finding about the rationality of the sense of justice seems related to that previous knowledge.

      " So these persons are close to the pathway Insula-ACC-DLPFC. So those same persons are more prone (much more) to be driven by ENVY (usually studied in conjunction with Schadenfreude) and have an incredible easiness on being hypocritical (resolution of cognitive dissonances)".

      Unsure. It is all new for me. Care to link to some references for my and others' enlightenment?

      " Furthermore their empathy is more of the affective way (the feel others pain) but not necessarily TOM (theory of mind)"...

      Maybe. And that would be interesting to explore.

      As I see it the TOM, while essentially neutral, has the potential of being used to exploiting the "bugs" in others' perception (I know what you know and use that to my advantage, unfairly), so it is not exactly "empathy" (from pathos = feeling, pain) but about raw rationality of social or otherwise plural interaction. En empathic and justice-oriented (ethical) person would be less likely to cheat using TOM, unless there is a "Robin Hood process" going on (i.e. the victim is considered guilty of causing injustice and therefore unworthy of being treated under the general criterion anymore), but someone who doesn't care about justice (non-empathic or unethical) would (unless fear stays on the way: see entry on sub-psychopathic machiavelianism).

      "... those righties that have a hypersensitive Amygdala hence have a Six sense".

      Risk avoidance is now called "sixth sense"?


    2. ...

      "... they actually always talk about this sort of concept on an abstract way (abstracta – something that does not exist in space and time) and actually whatever they are postulating isn’t really meant to be applied to them (not self – referential)".

      I feel you are not right here but rather projecting a negative prejudice. Yesterday incidentally watched a movie on Abbie Hoffman, a character unknown to me until tonight. And what do you see: a hypocrite? Nope: someone who dedicates his life to his own and collectively shared beliefs of justice. It is the same with Che or with so many others of the same kind. If for any reason (drugged, angry or whatever) this kind of people would kick a beggar's can (or equivalent), they would feel terribly ashamed, much more than the average person, and would take a long time to heal from such self-inflicted injury. They may never be able to truly forgive themselves for such a breach of humanity.

      On the other hand, nobody lacks contradictions and the higher your standards the greater those contradictions will be, so eventually one has to reach a middle point and self-tolerate some vices that cannot be defeated, at least not easily. That's part of maturity: to be able to forgive yourself for being such an ape, or at least assume your imperfections.

      Said that, each person is unique and extremely complex and generalizations as we are making here can only apply to some extent to each individual.

    3. Maju.
      Stop it.
      So CHE killed personally over 10 persons and at is command in La Cabana more than 55 peoples (P E O P L E ) were killed… and if he were to kick a beggars can he would have a scar on his soul (?!?!)

      No. Lefties are hypocrites because they do have the ability to really solve cognitive dissonances like nobody. Yes, Ryota Kanai found this relationship between the left and the ACC (anterior cingulate) but the relationship between the ACC and the characteristics of the lefties is something that vox populi knows for centuries.

      A better example (less extreme than a serial killer) is Noam Chomsky. I assume you know who he is, right.
      Being the most anti-capitalist alive we’ve just learned that not to pay taxes e just created a foundation. Successory tax in the US e like a “normal average tax” in Europe… he was not going to let that money go the beloved state. No. E did what whealthy capiltalists do – Make a foundation! – Yes, spread the health naturally it means the other people money… errr naturally what he “believes” e really no to apply to him!
      Further, all is books rights are now on theirs children names (not to pay so much taxes) and , la crème de la crème… he has a portfolio of stocks that is based on the most hateful of corporate and capitalist America! Truly. Military (like Haliburton!) , pharmaceutical, the all enchilada.
      And asked how that was possible, his answer was: I do not apologize for wanting to leave money to my children! – Can you imagine anything more Burgoise than what he said!?!?

      That is an Hypocrite for you… no, that is a true leftie for you.

    4. War is war but an arbitrary act of injustice is something totally different. Can you compare Che with, say, a famous right wing general like Eisenhower? Nobody judges him because he killed in war, that's plainly stupid: he was a fighter of whatever his allegiance was.

      Or is it just lefties who are not allowed to fight? If a cop kills me, who cares?, but if I kill a cop in self-defense, then all the hypocritical fascists point their finger at me and want me lynched. C'mon! Are we going to have an intelligent debate of have we already reached the limits of its possibilities?

      As for Chomsky, I have conflicting feelings about him: on one side I first learned of the atrocities of Israel by his hand, on another he is still way too Zionist for me. He's a bit too ambiguous and "institutional" for my liking. He's an intellectual but hardly an activist: those people often live in their own academic bubble. He's probably more conservative than you credit him for.

      But whatever the case, it is not to me to decide what other people do within the system we have to endure. As I said before: we all have contradictions and conciliate them the best we can. Being "pure" is unrealistic, being mildly coherent does not entail being "pure" or a "saint" of sorts. Very few people can reach such high standards, regardless of their ideology, most are probably somewhere in between, struggling to conciliate their life-term pragmatism and their wider aspirations for a better life for all here on Earth.

      Anyhow, you may have noticed by now that I'm not listing individual right-wingers like Rothschild, Murdoch or, god forbids!, Hitler. I don't wish to get lost in individual examples because, as I said before each person is unique. We are discussing averages and tendencies here.

  4. Now,
    going to you previous reply to me, you just prove what Haidt also found out about lefties (since you don’t like liberals) , which was that they are the only social-political group that couldn’t actually represent correctly the ethical- political views of a person from a different group. Not kidding- Even a skinhead can answer a questionnaire as if he was a member of the communist party… but a lefties cannot really do it! – Pretty impressive right? You see, the two normative and prescriptive moral pillars so close to been a leftie are the ones Paleolithic. It’s was from the Neolithic on that humans had to develop the other 3! - Loyalty/betrayal , Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation.
    These are the 3 that are mainly descriptive. They are the ones that bind us into groups. Important to retain that are those, that the left can’t really feel (!) are the ones that sort of voluntarily bind us together. And since the left don’t really dig it, when it tries to build a society in only knows how to do thing in a… you guess it… normative and prescriptive way (the way you dress, the way you think, the way you talk and all that Political correctness stuff, like prescribing a medicine) and it always end up in Soviet unions and north Korea.
    So, tomorrow when you walk out just look around and figure that all that around you was actually build by those dumb righties. They are the builders of worlds. Because until lefties learn how to be descriptive they will never, never, build anything worthwhile looking at. Societies aren’t build on normative!
    And here’s a freebie: How can lefties start to learn that? – Simple. Just get all together and go to that corner and start to live according with its postulates. Yes. All just joint and start sharing income amongst yourselves and the rest of us will just watch. When we all see that it is a good thing, we will all join. That’s how the righties do it. How hard can it be to emulate those not so bright righties?

    1. "Even a skinhead can answer a questionnaire as if he was a member of the communist party… but a lefties cannot really do it! – Pretty impressive right?"

      I am very surprised by that claim. I do sincerely believe I could really fake my answers to pretend to be even a Nazi (I was actually raised by fascists and more moderate conservatives: I know well how they think, not that they ever managed to impress me though) - now impersonating one for any sustained time nope (among other reasons because I am a very poor actor but also because I would emotionally clash with such impersonation).

      I do not see any reason to believe such claim: it is not at all what my experience tells me.

      "You see, the two normative and prescriptive moral pillars so close to been a leftie are the ones Paleolithic".

      Paleolithic is 95% of H. sapiens evolutionary history and >99% of the evolutionary history of Homo sp. As a "primitivist" I can't but agree that the ideals of the left in general tend to seek a restoration of sorts of the Paleolithic way of life in the technological and civilized era: it's what we humans were naturally designed for in any case.

      "It’s was from the Neolithic on that humans had to develop the other 3! - Loyalty/betrayal , Authority/subversion, Sanctity/degradation".

      The three seem rather the same one to me: it is what Freud would call the super-ego (part of it actually) or the Humanist Psychologists the authoritarian parent (pig parent, etc.) In more lay terms it is simply AUTHORITY (mostly in a negative and totalitarian sense of the word).

      However the (sub-)principle of loyalty/betrayal must have also existed in Paleolithic times: group loyalty is essential to all human societies, even the most basic ones. This kind of peer-loyalty is different from the hierarchical one you are probably outlining with your discourse.


    2. ...

      "They are the ones that bind us into groups".

      I don't know Haidt's study (no link nor doi so far) so I will refer instead to Niemi & Young 2013. In that study we see how "machs" (sub-psychopathic selfish personalities) resort to the kind of values that you (correctly) consider right-wing to forge anti-social alliances. They naturally use the most that selfish opportunistic abuse of TOM (Machiavellianism) and hierarchy (SDO) but what brings them allies (or should I call them "minions"?) is the use of in-group loyalty: divide et impera, you know.

      Their "groups" are always factions (corporate interests, ethnicity or race, etc.) and never the whole (society, humankind). That's how they divide society and humankind for their own selfish and socially destructive purposes. There's only one thing that stops them: fear of punishment, and that is precisely why they are not considered psychopaths.

      In the past their socially destructive power-mongering activities were not so extremely harmful because technology was not yet able to destroy everything as happens now. But today they are almost certainly causing the doom of our species. In that sense humanism and the left are more necessary than ever before, because only such "paleolithic" values can save us from the parasitic cancer-like activities of the Machs.

      "So, tomorrow when you walk out just look around and figure that all that around you was actually build by those dumb righties".

      Everything artificial was built by workers. Machs only profited from that, largely detracting from the social valorization of such constructions. Actually I can't even enter most of them, so I would be better off without them, right? At least there would be trees, animals, nature... instead.

      "Societies aren’t build on normative!"

      I thought that normative, authoritarianism, law-giving was precisely what you just praised as "right-wing values": loyalty, authority, sanctity... all that is just LAW (with the exception of peer-loyalty, which is more natural and instinctive).

      "All just joint and start sharing income amongst yourselves and the rest of us will just watch."

      Such experiments are always attacked systematically by the bourgeois regime: every other day I read about evicted social centers, housing squats, etc. Anyhow "income" is just a code, not anything real, it works like pheromones do among ants.

      Anyhow I've briefly lived in one such experiment, more fortunate than most others, mostly because it was a remote rural area and the former owners were in agreement, and people managed pretty well. Naturally we have issues because we have not been raised for that kind of society but it can be done for long intergenerational term, sure: experience confirms it.

      "When we all see that it is a good thing, we will all join."

      Honestly, I do not think people like you would be of much help. But let's have hope.

    3. Maju
      You still don’t get it.
      Righties societies are NOT build on Normative (prescriptive). Those societies are build on a sense of rules that describe what something ought to be. And when people are “norm violations” they are cast out of the group blessing. Not killed, not sent to a Gulag. They are just not part of the goup that is described by those parameters (whatever those be). There isn’t really a recipe that has to be admonished to them. That is a reeducation camp in Leftie wonderland not righties promised land (note: I am not religious at all).

      Than the rest of your comment I think I should really not comment. It just makes absolutely no sense. Starting by the fact that 90% of the righties are WORKERS.

      Most important because I notice that our exchange is getting to the PLWCTCY (Point where lefties are getting ready to call you a TROLL and censure you) which is something I always take for granted. That is money in the bank.

      So, stick to what you know. Do you know if guys at Perdigões are trying to figure what haplogroup those guys buried there where? Or there is no DNA there to be collected?

    4. "And when people are “norm violations” they are cast out of the group blessing. Not killed, not sent to a Gulag".

      Oh, really? What happens with all the political prisoners in the USA, like Mumia Abu Jamal or Leonard Peltier (just the two most famous)? In my "country" (state) there are hundreds of political prisoners, huge fines for merely demonstrating on the streets, a hyper-violent police that shoots rubber bullets directly against your head and chest and clearly a lack of representation of the sociological majority (that >90% of working class people) in the media, which is owned by a handful of oligarchs, as almost everything else is.

      Never mind about all the other famous rightists: from Hitler to Torquemada, from the tsars to the kaisers, from the King of Saudi Arabia to the terrorist "libertarian" oligarchs of Honduras and Colombia.

      What about the very many Native Americans murdered for their land, what about the very many Africans brought as slaves to work in that very same land? What about their endless slavery even today in the private prisons, under a hyper-repressive regime which imprisons people for even smoking marihuana mostly because prisoners are cheap labor? In the USA the regime has managed to some extent to hide misery and repression by making it almost exclusive of the ethnic minorities, who make up a sizable 25% or more of the population. That limits "damage" to the white majority, creating an illussion of relative well-being (although deteriorating fast) but only or almost only for the ethnic majority. In other countries this kind of racial stratification can't be easily implemented (barring mass immigration, what also has its problems) so we more easily perceive the reality of the masses because no skin-color differentiates us, just wallet thickness.

      Yes, repression has a cost, and I agree that repression must be kept minimal if possible. That's not exclusive of rightists: it's proper of smart management.

    5. "Do you know if guys at Perdigões are trying to figure what haplogroup those guys buried there where?"

      I am not aware of any new burial data. You might better ask lead researcher Antonio Valera (blog: http://portugueseenclosures.blogspot.com/). I think that the tombs were excavated long ago and that modern research is about the ditched enclosure itself, which is not any burial site but a meeting and possibly ritual place.

    6. "... 90% of the righties are WORKERS".

      90% of every society are workers, AFAIK. Well workers, unemployed workers, their relatives (minors, elderly, housewives), etc.

      The big question is why do they act and think against their "objective interest". A purely egalitarian distribution of global wealth would yield $50,000 in property each, OXFAM dixit, allowing everybody to live as upper middle class. The excess is owned by a mere 8% of the population and half of it by a mere 0.7% of millionaires.

      I know this may be a bit simplistic but it really illustrates the extreme injustices of our world and how they can be solved. The tendency however is exactly the opposite: growing inequality, much more for the top few, much less for the vast majority.

      Why do right-wing workers ignore their "objective interest"? Because of brainwashing (school, media, lack of information and disinformation in general). Those "pillars" you mention are part of that brainwashing. Religion ("sanctity") has been denounced as such since the age of Karl Marx or earlier but worship of authority ("authority", "loyalty") have probably not been denounced enough, maybe because Marx himself was prone to authoritarianism.

      Said that I think that collective authority (Zapatista style: who commands must command obeying [to the people]) and horizontal loyalty to such democratic-communist institutions are necessary. Therefore I do not consider these values as only corresponding to the right but as oversimplified archetypes which do not capture the essence of the problem as such.

      Even in the issue of religion and "sanctity", I could accept certain such values, such as the sanctity of Nature, which is the only Holy Book possible if there is indeed a god or gods. I actually seem to disagree with such values belonging only to the Right: only particular authoritarian or totalitarian versions of them are privative of them.

  5. Maju a correction
    Jonathan Haidt didn’t exactly (as fas as I know) asked Skinheads. And I shouldn’t have used that example. What he did was find out that the strange inability of lefties to respond to a questionnaire correctly as if they were very conservative, conservative, moderate. They just truly messed up the answers. When all other groups could more correctly do that as if they were the other ethical –political groups.
    What stuck is that for a group of people that is so vocal its really strange the difficulty in understanding the views of other people!

    A good example is what you have just said - it’s not to you to define what those other 3 morals pillars are. For more than half of the world population those are separate, those are real (as real as the normative) and it’s an intrinsic part of their human being… not being up to you to redefine what those are. Wouldn’t you agree?
    Finding people that generate those is finding most of world societies, civilizations and dawn of big human aggregates. Finding societies that are not based on binding, on descriptive morals you easily face soviet union, Mao China and north Korea.

    I wouldn’t say 95% of time for a Paleolithic Humans. Something happen 50.000 Ybp that change in humans from the previous hundredths of thousands of years. Was an evolution, Lefties psychology was born. Then something happened with the beginning of the Holocene period in the last 10,000 year… it was an evolution. The righties were Born. It’s called evolution again. :-)

    1. I understand that Homo sapiens is nearly the same since about its coalescence as distinct species, what probably happened c. 200 Ka ago. At most it happened before c. 160 Ka ago, when expansion in Africa or c. 130 Ka, latest possible date for the first material evidence of symbolism. Not all symbolic expression leaves evidence: dance and music do not, yet they are absolutely universal, including populations like Khoisan and Pygmies, who diverged before that c. 130 Ka date. The old theory of a "modern human behavior" arising only c. 40 or 50 Ka ago has been rendered totally obsolete. Also other human species like Neanderthals also displayed that symbolic expression, even if arguably less frequently and less early in time than ours.

      ... "it’s not to you to define what those other 3 morals pillars are. For more than half of the world population those are separate"...

      More than half of the world population believes in an invisible magic entity known as "god". That's maybe a reason why they make a distinction between sanctity and authority. But when asked about the source of both, many of them will say "Moses". Until the industrial era and the secularist revolutions there was no distinction between those items whatsoever: the king owed his power to god, although god also owed his power to the king, never mind when the king and high priest were the same, what happened now and then.

      That does not mean that I cannot discern them, I just go further and ALSO see them for what they are intimately and historically. You can't ask me to play dumb without stating the terms beforehand. If you know of a site where that questionnaire is for the public to answer playing dumb, I will gladly make a try and report my score (I'm actually curious about that but I need experimental evidence before accepting the claim or even understanding what it may be about).

      "... not being up to you to redefine what those are. Wouldn’t you agree?"

      I think I can actually redefine your three "pillars" as one (minus the horizontal loyalty aspect, which I think it is different and not right wing specific) and I think I have good reasons to do so.

      ... " you easily face soviet union, Mao China"...

      Retrospectively they were not worse than the world we live in right now. Actually would the soviet bloc still exist, I might ask for asylum and a job in East Berlin. I would have to learn German but that's probably not such a big challenge.

      Said that, not my piece of cake either. It can be done better. But, well, Cromwell was not either an icon of later bourgeois revolutions. Trial and error, I guess. Next time will be better for sure.

  6. Fascinating thoughts, Maju and Olympus. Seems that both Left and Right are reaching (in different ways) for a Collectivism that transcends the individual.

    Just in different ways. If the two paths could come together somehow in a Union (even if it's temporary and awkward on both sides at times), maybe the species could benefit.

    1. I like your optimism, although I fear it may be a bit unrealistic, considering how the parasitic element "Mach" seems to persistently drain even the best efforts into their selfish benefit (naturally there were also "Machs" in the USSR, etc. and they soon took power, deprecating the effort and eventually resulting in return to Capitalism).

      I would say that all or most of this has shared evolutionary origins in Paleolithic, although I also suspect that civilization has favored an increase of parasitic behaviors (i.e. "Machs"). Naturally parasites cannot become overly dominant because society would simply collapse, so the "good people" phenotype persists, even if only because it serves the Machs well by being generous and often "dumb" enough, as long as he/she doesn't rebel too often. But it would be much better if we could somehow minimize the Mach expression and maximize the "good guy" one, right?

      Sadly this issue is not well studied nor looks likely it will because it doesn't serve the Machiavellian elite's purposes.

      Has anybody watched "TheyLive!", a B-series film by John Carpenter that really explains the issue "for dummies". Who are they? "Investors"... from another planet.

    2. Well what become destructive parasitism is an imbalanced version of symbiosis or coadaptation. Maybe what is unbalanced can be rebalanced in the right conditions. Like social symbiogenesis.

      Yes I am optimist. Life finds a way.

  7. When I saw this post my immediate thoughts had to do with judicial decision making. My job has to do with judicial decisions made in a state agency. I see good and bad decisions every day.

    This ability to rise above instinct (or bias or prejudice) and make a decision based on abstract concepts and a fair application of those concepts must be a part of our development through evolutionary biology (as this paper implies). But we still make lots of everyday decisions based on prejudice: Is that person walking down the street toward me a friend or threat? Should I believe what the government tells me? What will I eat for dinner? etc. It's very easy to make decisions this way. It takes no effort at all.

    Judges can be partisan, they can be tools of the government, or they can be independent and focused on justice. When a judge decides "everyone is going to throw rocks at me when I walk down the street, but this man is not guilty under the law and I am going to set him free" that is an expression of this purely rational facility. The easy path is to say "I am afraid of this person" or "my bosses will punish me if I let him go". The easy path leads to an unjust decision.

    So this article suggests that making the emotionally or socially difficult decision which is correct under the law is a highly evolved function. Making a crappy decision (and there is a lot of that) results from retreating to emotions, intellectual laziness, and a fear of social consequences. I suspect that some of my colleagues are not aware of being lazy and fearful, they have made decisions that way for so long. Maybe this is just stating the obvious, but reading the post did give me a little more scientific insight as to why some judges are hacks.

    1. For me at least it's not stating the obvious because it is the first time I thought of the matter from the viewpoint of a judge (or say a jury member also). Previously I only thought of it as observer, be it in real life or in the even more restricted ambient of a brain scan facility (or say, watching TV - pretty much the same). So the point you make is indeed interesting because sometimes we can do or even we must do something relative to that injustice and not necessarily be in the position of mere spectators. Your judge example is pretty much relevant and not at all so obvious.


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