Praying For Tits

banghead  I sometimes waste my life participating in a political forum on MySpace riddled with pseudo-intellectual troglodytes and I hate myself in the morning. Sometimes the place just makes me want to bang my head into oblivion.

Often the problem is because people fall for bad reporting or selective reading. One thread was titled “If you ever wondered why liberals aren’t nice people…” Suffice to say: flame bait.

Here is what the poster quoted from a Guardian newspaper article:

When Al Gore was caught running up huge energy bills at home at the same time as lecturing on the need to save electricity, it turns out that he was only reverting to "green" type.

According to a study, when people feel they have been morally virtuous by saving the planet through their purchases of organic baby food, for example, it leads to the "licensing [of] selfish and morally questionable behaviour", otherwise known as "moral balancing" or "compensatory ethics".

Do Green Products Make Us Better People is published in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science. Its authors, Canadian psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong, argue that people who wear what they call the "halo of green consumerism" are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. "Virtuous acts can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviours," they write.

Sadly, it’s just too easy to discount such an assertion as the poster attempted to make when you look at the facts:

In their experiment the authors force their participants to consume green. This is likely to lead to cognitive dissonance and moral compensation of the participants in other domains (so called contrast effects – here interpreted as ‘licensing’). Hence, the research does not proof psychological licensing by green consumers. It demonstrates, however, that forcing people to consume green can cause resistance and cognitive dissonance potentially increasing the likelihood of participates to ‘misbehave’ in other decision making domains of the experiment.

Good research should reflect critically on what is going on in the real world as opposed to the effects measured in certain laboratory conditions. Unfortunately, the research is not particularly critical of it’s own method or interpretation and does not reflect on the limitations of the research caused by its particular way of data generation.

Taken together, more rigour and critical reflection would lead the researchers to a very different interpretation of their research or to no conclusions in relation to green consumer behaviour at all. As such, the research only demonstrates that if people are forced to consume green in a laboratory experiment, they will display cognitive dissonance and morally compensate in other available domains. Further, mere exposure to green products alone is unlikely to have the long term effects claimed by the authors. Ultimately, the research simply does not generate (the longitudinal) data that would allow us to interpreted and extrapolate the findings in the way in which the research has been portrayed in the media.

I did note, in response to the suggestion that “green” people do one good thing and think it’s ok to do another bad thing, the following:

Nothing new, really. This simply explains why you get anti-gay politicians thinking they can double dip into the chocolate fondue; charitable, religious people thinking it’s OK to cheat on their wives with hookers; forum posters who act nice to people who they agree with turn around and bite the head off someone who disagrees just slightly.

I thought to post this because of what I read from Jonathan Chait:

On the subject of Gingrich, here’s one thing I don’t understand. John Edwards’ philandering has made him a public pariah, understandably so. But Gingrich’s marital behavior was probably even more disgusting. He cheated on his first wife and told her he wanted a divorce while she was recovering from surgery for cancer. He subsequently cheated on his second wife with a much younger aide. It’s fairly amazing how Gingrich has managed to avoid any stigma from this. He’s just a conservative "ideas guy."

conservativeprinciplesWhat I said explains it completely. Gingrich thinks that because he champions a righteous cause, he can get away with doing stupid things. This is not limited to the right, or left, middle or any jerk that pretends to be a saint. Not even the pope or priests are safe from the tendency to compensate in this manner.

The question is why is it that some people get away with it while others are pissed on, spat on, and kicked around for doing the same thing others get just a slap on the wrist for?

I’m sorry, fellas. You can pray to heart’s content but all the prayer in the world won’t dismiss the fact you’re praying for a pair of plump tits in your face.

Update: Bob Cesca adds: “Of course the reason why they’re given a pass is the usual: the corporate press gives extra deference to the Republicans out of a self-conscious desire to not seem too liberal.”

In other words, in trying to be “fair and balanced,” the corporate press doesn’t report the truth and ends up creating a false narrative of reality.

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