The 60 minutes show on the Yale University Baby Lab has been doing the rounds on the internet, and it has caused quite a stir. And rightly so. It’s important that people are putting the resources to try to test nature vs nurture. And it’s important that they are ready to admit that nature exists too.
And admit they do, but it’s very funny how bewildered they are when nature shows herself. Shocked, shocked! I tell you. Babies can tell friend from foe! Well no shit. One of the best things of having been to Moldbug’s is you get to identify the American elite as the Puritans they descend from. So I imagine those peasant protestant fanatics of the 17th century, and they look a lot like these people on 60 minutes.
BREAKING: Do babies have a sense of morality? (self-important voice tone)
I can find a thousand ways of framing psychological experiments on babies. Baby cognition is a fascinating subject. But of course our priestly elite doesn’t care about cognition. They care about morality. That’s all that matters in the whole damn world. Are you good? Are you holy? Are you holier than me? No, I’m holier than thou. See how in the end all they talk is about applying the findings to “eradicate racism”. That’s all they care about. Ivy League researches will develop fusion power, grapheme mass-production and genetic load curing, but it will only be used if it can help “eradicate racism”. Oh God. If only the southern colonies hadn’t imported African labor, imagine all the crap we would have been spared. We would have had fusion by now.
In the end all the experiment shows is that babies can tell friend from foe, which is a pretty basic concept. Very useful too, and not really that surprising. The most “shocking” point on the experiment is how babies decide who is friend and who isn’t. In the experiment is by taste. This fella likes cheerios, he gets it, he’s my pal. The other guy has no taste at all, screw him. The priests look positively horrified. You can’t screw a guy because he doesn’t like cheerios!
Have this people never been in primary school? I remember ganging up with kids for the lamest reasons, forming big coalitions until the class was neatly divided in two, then fight. Every 3 months or so the group was dissolved and rebuilt on some other lame reason, and the process repeated itself. That’s what people do. Are elite boarding schools in the American school any different? Researchers have bad memory I think.
While the findings are very interesting, besides the widespread horror at the ability of babies to deduce their interests and make friends accordingly, there’s a datum that hasn’t been given enough attention. In the first experiment, 75-80% of the kids prefer the as yet unmet nice puppet over the mean one. The conclusion, fairly enough, is that ceteris paribus people prefer kind peopel to mean people. But what about the remaining 20-25%. They had a choice to make friends with a nice puppet and a mean puppet. And they chose the mean one! Now I’m sure the researches concluded the kids were simply mistaken, baby cognition being a mess. But what if it isn’t? 20% is a lot of people. Are they masochistic? Or just wanna join in the fun? And what’s the distribution? Did baby girls choose more mean puppets than boys?
Also see the later experiment on older kids. So they learn to be generous later on. Do all of them do? How many are still stingy little fuckers? The ugly fat pretentious girl who chose green should be tracked to see if she also develops generosity. For further challenge they should change the chips with cupcakes.
Now that would be really interesting, groundbreaking data. But that doesn’t help eradicate racism so they probably won’t even collect the data. Alas.