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Gingersnap
05-10-2010, 11:58 AM
Babies know the difference between good and evil at six months, study reveals

By David Derbyshire

Last updated at 9:25 AM on 10th May 2010
Comments (118) Add to My Stories

At the age of six months babies can barely sit up - let along take their first tottering steps, crawl or talk.
But, according to psychologists, they have already developed a sense of moral code - and can tell the difference between good and evil.

An astonishing series of experiments is challenging the views of many psychologists and social scientists that human beings are born as 'blank slates' - and that our morality is shaped by our parents and experiences.

Instead, they suggest that the difference between good and bad may be hardwired into the brain at birth.

In one experiment involving puppets, babies aged six months old showed a strong preference to 'good' helpful characters - and rejected unhelpful, 'naughty' ones. In another, they even acted as judge and jury. When asked to take away treats from a 'naughty' puppet, some babies went further - and dished out their own punishment with a smack on its head.

Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in Connecticut, whose department has studied morality in babies for years, said: 'A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.

'With the help of well designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life. 'Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bones.'

For one study, the Yale researchers got babies aged between six months and a year to watch a puppet show in which a simple, colourful wooden shape with eyes tries to climb a hill. Sometimes the shape is helped up the hill by a second toy, while other times a third character pushes it down.

After watching the show several times, the babies were shown the helpful and unhelpful toys. They showed a clear preference for the helpful toys - spending far longer looking at the 'good' shapes than the 'bad' ones.
'In the end, we found that six- and ten-month-old infants overwhelmingly preferred the helpful individual to the hindering individual,' Prof Bloom told the New York Times.

'This wasn't a subtle statistical trend; just about all the babies reached for the good guy.'

Two more tests found the same moral sense.

Interesting.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1275574/Babies-know-difference-good-evil-months-study-reveals.html#ixzz0nXhqEMpd

M21
05-10-2010, 12:35 PM
Born with a conscience? Imagine that. Science again reveals what creationists have known all along.

noonwitch
05-10-2010, 12:40 PM
Babies know the difference between things that frighten them and things that make them happy. Sometimes, that translates to good and evil. This study is interesting, but it should lead to further studies. Psychologists believe that a child's personality is generally intact by age 5.

FlaGator
05-10-2010, 12:46 PM
Born with a conscience? Imagine that. Science again reveals what creationists have known all along.

Except for atheist babies. They have to wait until society tells them what is right and what wrong :D

Wei Wu Wei
05-10-2010, 01:18 PM
Media outlets are notororiously bad at representing scientific studies.

Here's an article by the Professor in question on the topic in question that goes in further depth about the issue and the experiments, complete with pictures, various explanations for the results, and more:

http://portal.idc.ac.il/en/Symposium/HSPSP/2010/Documents/04-bloom.pdf

PoliCon
05-10-2010, 01:23 PM
You sit two six month old kids down together and put one toy between them and you will see original sin at work. Glad to see that someone else is finally realizing what should be common sense - good and evil are not culturally derived. They are absolutes - even if there are large gray areas where the two overlap.

Wei Wu Wei
05-10-2010, 01:26 PM
You sit two six month old kids down together and put one toy between them and you will see original sin at work. Glad to see that someone else is finally realizing what should be common sense - good and evil are not culturally derived. They are absolutes - even if there are large gray areas where the two overlap.

Actually the paper I just linked, written by the actual professor at hand, suggests that morality is not "absolute" but rather linked in language, even the most basic of linguistic structures bring about this effect of "morality".

I totally agree that good and evil are not "natural", they are linguistic structures.

linda22003
05-10-2010, 02:31 PM
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2331/2122713856_791ceec129.jpg

FlaGator
05-10-2010, 02:35 PM
Actually the paper I just linked, written by the actual professor at hand, suggests that morality is not "absolute" but rather linked in language, even the most basic of linguistic structures bring about this effect of "morality".

I totally agree that good and evil are not "natural", they are linguistic structures.

Of course it's linguistic. It's evil because God said it's evil.;)

Wei Wu Wei
05-10-2010, 02:39 PM
Of course it's linguistic. It's evil because God said it's evil.;)

How about the flip side: Is something Good because God said it's good? Or did God say it, because it is good?

FlaGator
05-10-2010, 02:42 PM
How about the flip side: Is something Good because God said it's good? Or did God say it, because it is good?

Yes

noonwitch
05-10-2010, 02:48 PM
:D
You sit two six month old kids down together and put one toy between them and you will see original sin at work. Glad to see that someone else is finally realizing what should be common sense - good and evil are not culturally derived. They are absolutes - even if there are large gray areas where the two overlap.



It's even more fun to do that with 2 year olds, because they've developed the ability to use the toy as a weapon at that point. :D

Constitutionally Speaking
05-10-2010, 04:41 PM
Media outlets are notororiously bad at representing scientific studies.

Here's an article by the Professor in question on the topic in question that goes in further depth about the issue and the experiments, complete with pictures, various explanations for the results, and more:

http://portal.idc.ac.il/en/Symposium/HSPSP/2010/Documents/04-bloom.pdf

Media outlets completely botched the acid rain reporting. A person I am very close to was one of the scientists (in fact the highest non politically appointed person) on the NAPAP study on which was used to justify the 1990 clean air act revisions. Except the study actually did no such thing. It was so badly misrepresented by the media, the environmental groups and politicians that he wrote a book that discussed this gross misuse and misrepresentation of science by these groups. The book is "Smoke or Steam - A Critique of Environmental Issues" and it covers several different environmental hoaxes perpetrated on us by the wacko environmentalists and leftist media and political types.

NJCardFan
05-10-2010, 04:46 PM
Babies know the difference between things that frighten them and things that make them happy. Sometimes, that translates to good and evil. This study is interesting, but it should lead to further studies. Psychologists believe that a child's personality is generally intact by age 5.

I have to agree with Noon here. For example, a child might look at his pediatrician as evil because that's the guy who gives him needles. Even though those needles are beneficial. However, there have been studies done where a stranger goes to a park and tells the little kids that he can't seem to find his puppy and if they can help him. Some of those kids would actually walk off with the guy meaning that a child molester can walk up to these kids and abduct them as his leisure just by telling them that he can't find his puppy. So, their own perception of evil maybe but not god and evil per se.

wilbur
05-10-2010, 09:48 PM
Yes

Another one falls on the horns of Euthyphro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma)... the body count is... countless.

;)

wilbur
05-10-2010, 10:00 PM
Born with a conscience? Imagine that. Science again reveals what creationists have known all along.

We also see instinctual moral behaviour in many animals as well, I'm not really sure why this study is surprising. If that sort of instinctual moral behaviour at all provides survival value, one would expect it to see it passed along.

FlaGator
05-10-2010, 10:39 PM
Another one falls on the horns of Euthyphro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthyphro_dilemma)... the body count is... countless.

;)

It's not a dilemma for a believer.

FlaGator
05-10-2010, 10:43 PM
We also see instinctual moral behaviour in many animals as well, I'm not really sure why this study is surprising. If that sort of instinctual moral behaviour at all provides survival value, one would expect it to see it passed along.

If it is instinctual then it is not moral behavior. Being born with a base since of right and wrong does not imply instinct since there is no thought behind instinct it is merely a reaction to a specific situation.

wilbur
05-10-2010, 11:00 PM
It's not a dilemma for a believer.

Of course it is... many believers throughout the centuries have worked hard to answer it, and they have worked extremely hard to avoid some of the troubling conclusions of either horn. To be fair, the conclusions of each respective horn are only troubling if you dislike the idea that morality is arbitrary and subjective, or don't mind the idea that God is just a vessel who communicates moral truths to us, that exist objectively apart from Him and to which He is subject. If you're willing to bite either of those bullets, then its no problem - but once you do, you're not really in traditional theist land any more, you're some place else.

wilbur
05-10-2010, 11:06 PM
If it is instinctual then it is not moral behavior. Being born with a base since of right and wrong does not imply instinct since there is no thought behind instinct it is merely a reaction to a specific situation.

In whatever weird and mystical sense you are using "right and wrong" here, I have a feeling, doesnt mesh well with how the terms are used in the study in question.

I certainly don't think these researchers are suggesting that babies exhibit complex moral thought.

Rockntractor
05-10-2010, 11:31 PM
I certainly don't think these researchers are suggesting that babies exhibit complex moral thought.
So your saying in a sense they are like you?:rolleyes:

FlaGator
05-11-2010, 08:02 AM
In whatever weird and mystical sense you are using "right and wrong" here, I have a feeling, doesnt mesh well with how the terms are used in the study in question.

I certainly don't think these researchers are suggesting that babies exhibit complex moral thought.

Moral thought doesn't have to be complex, it just has to be a choice. Instinctual behavior, however, has no relevence what so ever to complex or simplistic thought. It is a reaction to a stimulus much like your reaction to post everytime you see a thread that maybe even remotely related to faith.

FlaGator
05-11-2010, 08:03 AM
So your saying in a sense they are like you?:rolleyes:


:D:D:D

wilbur
05-11-2010, 08:25 AM
Moral thought doesn't have to be complex, it just has to be a choice. Instinctual behavior, however, has no relevence what so ever to complex or simplistic thought. It is a reaction to a stimulus much like your reaction to post everytime you see a thread that maybe even remotely related to faith.

There really is no such thing as choice, in the sense that you seem to mean. Our choices are not spontaneous blips from the ether (which presumably have some sort of dominion or controlling power over natural instincts). They are the determined results of our inborn, instinctual nature. Baby or adult, our choices, however they grow in complexity, come from the same fundamental source. Its perfectly sensible to describe instincts, as moral - unless one simply has crazy, incoherent ideas about what morality actually is...

FlaGator
05-11-2010, 08:45 AM
Of course it is... many believers throughout the centuries have worked hard to answer it, and they have worked extremely hard to avoid some of the troubling conclusions of either horn. To be fair, the conclusions of each respective horn are only troubling if you dislike the idea that morality is arbitrary and subjective, or don't mind the idea that God is just a vessel who communicates moral truths to us, that exist objectively apart from Him and to which He is subject. If you're willing to bite either of those bullets, then its no problem - but once you do, you're not really in traditional theist land any more, you're some place else.

I think you are confusing ethics with morality. God defines the ethics (the oughtness) of reality, man defines his morals (the is-ness) from the ethics of God and the current societal norms. Morality can and does change and can be different between societies because of an imperfect interpretation of God's perfect law (ethics) and cultural changes and differences. However, God's ethics are constant.

Am I a sinner because I sin or do I sin because I am a sinner?

Is God incapable of violating his own ethical standards? No, because he is the ethical standard and the two can not be separated. Can God allow others to violate his ethical standards? Yes he can. He can not set aside His soverignty but he can use his soverignty to make all things good or bad work to some ultimate good. Can you cease to breath of your own will? Not with out outside assistance. Neither can God act outside his nature that would imply change and God is immutable. Can God create a square circle? No because that is non-sensical but does that mean that God has limitations? No because God can not make what can not be, be. God can not create a contradiction because a contradiction is a logical absurdity. It is not a violation of His omnipotence, it is living out His being.

God is the not just the author of our ethical standards, He is the embodiment of them. God is not bound by natural laws because He is the embodiment of the natural laws. How can God act illogically when He is logic?

FlaGator
05-11-2010, 08:54 AM
There really is no such thing as choice, in the sense that you seem to mean. Our choices are not spontaneous blips from the ether (which presumably have some sort of dominion or controlling power over natural instincts). They are the determined results of our inborn, instinctual nature. Baby or adult, our choices, however they grow in complexity, come from the same fundamental source. Its perfectly sensible to describe instincts, as moral - unless one simply has crazy, incoherent ideas about what morality actually is...

So we have no free will because there are no real choices available to us? Our choices are merely a result of our genetic code and the environment of our upbringing. The implication here is that free will is an illusion and our behavior is deterministic which would mean that there is no such a thing as morals or ethics. There are just responses to stimuli that our conscience interprets as moral choices.

Zeikobyan
05-11-2010, 11:19 AM
So we have no free will because there are no real choices available to us? Our choices are merely a result of our genetic code and the environment of our upbringing. The implication here is that free will is an illusion and our behavior is deterministic which would mean that there is no such a thing as morals or ethics. There are just responses to stimuli that our conscience interprets as moral choices.

I am an atheist myself, but the idea that our consciousness is merely stimuli and trial and error kind of makes me a little sad =/ That's it?

fettpett
05-11-2010, 12:43 PM
great....another arguement about whether or not we have choice.

Wei Wu Wei
05-11-2010, 01:21 PM
Can you cease to breath of your own will? Not with out outside assistance.

Actually most of the time my breathing is non-intentional

wilbur
05-11-2010, 02:19 PM
I am an atheist myself, but the idea that our consciousness is merely stimuli and trial and error kind of makes me a little sad =/ That's it?

Ask yourself what the alternative is... if our choices are uncaused causes, then they can really only be considered arbitrary, and random. That should be equally deflating..

CueSi
05-11-2010, 10:07 PM
:D



It's even more fun to do that with 2 year olds, because they've developed the ability to use the toy as a weapon at that point. :D

You. Are. Evil.

And somehow, that intrigues me. :p

~QC