Bloody shovel

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Babies like stuff, researchers shocked

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.

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24 responses to “Babies like stuff, researchers shocked

  1. Handle November 23, 2012 at 08:43

    Maybe we should just use “to eradicate racism!” as our purported justification to fund and promote any project we favor.

  2. Toad November 23, 2012 at 21:36

    “… it would make sense that evolution would predispose us to be wary of “the other” for survival and so we need society and parental nurturing to intervene.”

    “…it would make sense…”
    “…for survival…”
    Two good points made by them.
    “… we need society … to intervene.”
    Can’t have that sense-making and survival now, can we?

  3. asdf November 26, 2012 at 14:52

    Maybe these people understand nature all too well and they are simply forming a tribe (The Cathedral) based on a stupid premise.

    I’ve recentely come to wonder about all sorts of tribes. Take Mormonism. The book of Mormon is loopy as fuck, but Mormon’s seem to be getting all the important stuff right anyway. Then it hit me. It has to be loopy is fuck. If you swear that this loopy shit is the one truth of God then you’ve signaled total loyalty to the group. Buying into the nonsense is the loyalty test, then the group gets on with doing the kind of stuff groups do. They can ignore the loopy stuff as necessary in their actual real world actions if it gets in the way, but they always have to attest to it to show loyalty.

    Is leftisms various creeds like anti-racism any less loopy? Maybe loopyness is the point. It signals your allegiance to the leftist tribe.

    Tribes care about loyalty. They care that even when the facts are against it. That’s the best kind of loyalty! Loyalty that will never change even when it should. That is real tribalism.

    • spandrell November 26, 2012 at 19:34

      I´ve been reaching the same conclusion recently, but I’ve yet to articulate it properly.
      I’ve also got to know a few extremely stupid cults, and they all operate on the same principle: provide a modicum of safety from the harshness of free market competition.

      I should do a proper post on the issue, it’s been bugging me a lot.

      • nydwracu November 27, 2012 at 14:05

        Also consider that the school system selects for loyalty and conformity.

      • Toad December 5, 2012 at 01:45

        “provide a modicum of safety from the harshness of free market competition.”

        Associations like cults ARE the free market competition.

        You could say that a department store shelters you from the free market in that you don’t have to rummage around yard sales to find what you want.

        Its individualists that don’t want to be subjected to the various local community associations that need socialism and big government to replace the roles performed by them.

        • spandrell December 5, 2012 at 04:07

          When you get a job because your cult provides it to you, that’s protection from the free market.
          When you get a wife because your cult provides it to you, that’s protection from the free market.
          Cults protect you from outside competition.

    • Candide III November 27, 2012 at 02:48

      I think you are underestimating our capacity for self-deception. It is not necessary for “these people” to understand nature and consciously or semi-consciously form a tribe around negating it, because the stupid premises and the loopy beliefs are adaptive by themselves.

      Lorenzo has a good post on a related topic, Beliefs as Status Markers. A standalone status hierarchy is a good approximation of a tribe, and vice versa.

  4. Jehu November 27, 2012 at 01:19

    ASDF, Spandrell,
    What you’re groping for is ‘costly signalling’. It’s a solution to limit free-riding for a group. Basically costly signals are too expensive to be faked much. An extreme example is the mandatory cannibalism among the evildoer group in Lucifer’s hammer.

    • asdf November 27, 2012 at 02:33

      That’s a good summary. I think costly signaling works best for smaller groups that are committed to specific things in life. Mormonism is again a good one. I let some Mormon missionaries come over as research on the issue. Here is what I got from my time with them.

      1) Mormonism is really fucked up and the church hierarchy is probably corrupt.

      2) They can be really oppressive of members personal lives.

      3) They are serious about the tithing stuff. Also the strictness of moral laws (I think giving up coffee might kill me).

      4) They will get you a wife (and lots of kids that are yours) if you want one.

      5) They will help you out if you lose your job.

      1-3 are really big sacrifices, but 4 & 5 are about solving the same problems religion have always been about solving (paternity and safety net).

      Ultimately the big worry with Mormonism has to be the fact that it may not function the same at 30% of the population as it does at 1.5%.

      • Candide III November 27, 2012 at 02:52

        I’d like to read a longer version of this comment. Also, how do they stand on divorce?

        • asdf November 27, 2012 at 03:19

          The short answer the any question about Mormons is to ask how religious white people in 1950s suburbs would have acted.

      • Red November 28, 2012 at 21:08

        Mormon’s are a bit like jews. They tend to play middle man minority role.

        • Bill December 3, 2012 at 18:19

          That sounds wrong to me. Are Mormons greatly underrepresented (relative to other whites) as tradesmen (carpenters, plumbers, construction, etc)? In things like medical technicians? Dental hygienists? Jews sure are. Are Mormons overrepresented in wholesale and retail trade? In finance? In the academy? Jews sure are. Are there Mormon farmers?

          They seem more like super-duper Protestants to me than Jews. Protestants are a kind of Jewcier Christian, so I kind of see the idea. But middlemen minorities?

  5. spandrell November 27, 2012 at 05:48

    I remember Rodney Stark writing that Mormonism was growing at the same rate as early Christianity, and would soon conquer the world. It has since plateaued though.
    One should predict that with peak feminism and the bad employment situation, cults have a perfect environment to grow. Are they?

  6. asdf November 27, 2012 at 06:17

    If Mormonism grows I think it will mainly come from fertility rather then conversion. Both the missionaries were from families of 6 and 9 kids respectively.

    • spandrell November 27, 2012 at 06:24

      The attrition rate must be quite high though. At least for those who move to other places.

      • asdf November 27, 2012 at 14:41

        I don’t know. We’ve got some data monkey’s in the sphere that can figure that out.

        The key in Mormonism is that female status in the community is tied to how many kids you have. Also you are required to spend a lot of time at church so the status matters (Sunday service is three hours). Everything flows from that.

      • RS-prime December 3, 2012 at 19:10

        Yes, their attrition is probably high. Eventually it gets close to null — as has happened with Orthodox Judaism (or at least with the modal, hard-segregationist form), but only recently.

        I would imagine Amish have high retention, due to the great age of the sect, and lack (I presume) of introduction of much new genetic material in recent times.

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