from the world's big
The Moral Worldview of Babies
“[T]he Author of Nature has determin’d us to receive… a Moral Sense, to direct our Actions, and to give us still nobler Pleasures.”
That appeal was made in 1725 by Scottish philosopher Francis Hutcheson, and it captured one side of a debate that tries to answer the question: Where does morality come from? On the other side were thinkers like John Locke and Thomas Hobbes who believed that morality is the product of experience. That was the extent of the discourse for most of history; morality was either prepackaged or learned. End of story.
Recent psychological research tells us the answer is somewhere in the middle. Yes, babies come into the world predisposed with a set of moral intuitions – morality can’t be entirely self-constructed. But what babies consider right and wrong and which moral intuitions they value, develops from experience. As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt puts it: “We’re born to be righteous, but we have to learn what, exactly, people like us should be righteous about.”
Let’s look at some research. Consider a paper published earlier this year by Stephanie Sloane, Renée Baillargeon and David Premack. In one experiment 48 19-month-olds watched two giraffe puppets dance. The experimenter gave either one toy to each giraffe or two toys to one giraffe. Meanwhile, Sloane and her colleagues timed how long the infants gazed at the scene until they lost interest — longer looking times indicate that the infants sensed something is wrong. They found that three-quarters of the infants looked longer when one giraffe got both toys, suggesting they detected an unfair distribution.
In the second experiment, two women played with a small pile of toys when an experimenter said, “Wow! Look at all these toys. It’s time to clean them up!” In one scenario both women put the toys away and both got a reward. In another, one woman put all the toys away and both got a reward. Like the first experiment, the researchers found that the youngsters (21-month-olds in this experiment) gazed longer in the second scenario, in which the worker and the slacker received an equal reward. Here’s Sloane on the implications of her research:
We think children are born with a skeleton of general expectations about fairness and these principles and concepts get shaped in different ways depending on the culture and the environment they’re brought up in… helping children behave more morally may not be as hard as it would be if they didn’t have that skeleton of expectations.
A study published last October by Marco Schmidt and Jessica Summerville demonstrates similar results. In one experiment Schmidt and Summervile presented 15-month-old babies two videos: one in which an experimenter distributes an equal share of crackers to two recipients and another in which the experimenter distributes an unequal share of crackers (they also did the same procedure with milk). The scientists measured how long the babies gazed at the crackers and milk while they were distributed and found that the babies spent more time looking when one recipient got more food than the other. This prompted Schmidt and Summerville to conclude that
the infants [expecting] an equal and fair distribution of food… were surprised to see one person given more crackers or milk than the other… this provides the first evidence that by at least 15 months of age, human infants possess the rudiments of a sense of fairness in that they expect resources to be allocated equally when observing others.
One of the most cited papers on moral development in the last few years comes from Kiley Hamlin, Karen Wynn and Paul Bloom. In one experiment they used a three-dimensional display and puppets to act out helping/hindering situations for six and ten-month-old infants. For example, a yellow triangle (helper) helped a red circle (climber) up a hill or a blue square (hinderer) pushed the red circle down the hill. After repeating these two scenarios several times an experimenter offered the helper and hinderer to the infants. They found the infants preferred the helper puppet most of the time. When Hamlin et al. pitted the hinderer against a neutral character the infants likewise preferred the neutral character. This experiments suggests the infants prefer those who help others and avoid those who hinder others.
Drawing on these results (and two similar experiments from the same study) as well as data from other child development research, Bloom concludes in a NYTimes article that
babies possess certain moral foundations — the capacity and willingness to judge the actions of others, some sense of justice, gut responses to altruism and nastiness… if we didn’t start with this basic apparatus, we would be nothing more than amoral agents, ruthlessly driven to pursue our self-interest.
This brings me to a brand new study that challenges Hamlin, Wynn and Bloom. The researchers, headed by Dr. Damian Scarf of the University of Otago in New Zealand, note that the scene Hamlin et al. created contains two “conspicuous perceptual events.” The first is a collision between the climber and the helper or the hinderer. The second is a positive bouncing event that occurs when the climber reaches the top of the hill. Scarf and his team hypothesize that the infants are reacting to these events – the aversive collisions and cheerful bouncing – and not deciding from an innate moral sense. In their words, “The helper is viewed as positive because, although associated with the aversive collision event, it is also associated with the more salient and positive bouncing event. In contrast, the hinderer is viewed as negative because it is only associated with the aversive collision event.”
To test this Scarf’s team created two experiments. The first determined whether infants found the collision event aversive. To do this “[they] eliminated the climber bouncing at the top of the hill on help trials and pitted the helper against a neutral character.” The purpose of this twist was to test if the infants’ decisions derived from a moral sense or the attention-grabbing bouncing. “If infants find the collision between the climber and the helper aversive then in the absence of the climber bouncing, infants should select the neutral character.”
They designed the second experiment to determine if infants found the bouncing event positive. To test this they “manipulated whether the climber bounced on help trials (bounce-at-the-top condition), hinder trials (bounce-at-the-bottom condition), or both (bounce-at-both condition).” If the infants base their decisions off of the bouncing event they should select whichever puppet bounces regardless of their role as a helper or hinderer. However, if Hamlin is right and the infants are driven by a moral intuition then they “should display universal preference for the helper because in all three conditions the helper is assisting the climber in achieving its goal of ascending the hill.”
They found evidence in both experiments that the infants were reacting to the two “conspicuous perceptual events” and not driven by potential innate moral intuitions. Here are the scientists:
Experiment 1 demonstrated that, in the absence of bouncing, infants preferred the neutral character over the helper. This finding is consistent with our view that infants find the collision event aversive irrespective of whether the collision occurs between the hinderer and the climber or the helper and the climber. The finding is not consistent with [Hamlin’s] hypothesis because that hypothesis predicts that infants will view the collision between the hinderer and the climber as qualitatively different from the collision between the helper and the climber (i.e., as helping and hindering respectively). Experiment 2 adds further support to the simple association hypothesis by demonstrating that the bouncing event predicts infants’ choices. While the preference for the helper in the bounce-at-the-top condition is consistent with the social evaluation and the simple association hypotheses, the preference for the hinderer in the bounce-at-the-bottom condition and the lack of a preference in the bounce-at-both condition clearly conflicts with the social evaluation hypothesis. If infants’ choices were based on social evaluation then, because the helper assists the climber in both the bounce-at-the-bottom and bounce-at-both conditions, infants should display preference for the helper in both conditions.
Do these results undermine Hamlin et al.’s previous study? It’s not likely. In a response published in the academic journal PNAS Hamlin outlines four shortcomings in Scarf et al.’s experiment: 1) The climber looked different; 2) the climber acted different; 3) the climber appeared to climb the hill on its own during helping trials; 4) the climber moved downwards before the hinderer made contact. Hamlin concludes that, “All of these considerations make it plausible, then, that Scarf et al.’s infants responded to perceptual variables because—unlike in our original study—the goal of the Climber was unclear to the infants and therefore the “helping” and “hindering” events did not strike them as helping or hindering.”
Also important is the fact Hamlin and her colleagues have replicated their findings several times “across several social scenarios that do not involve climbing, colliding, or bouncing.” In addition, numerous studies published by other researchers in the last several years – including the aforementioned studies – provide good evidence that a general sense of fairness and the capacity to judge the actions of others are hard-wired. Scarf and his team are right to call attention to potential sources of error, but the evidence in favor of Hutcheson’s assertion – that the Author of Nature determined us to receive a moral sense – appears robust.
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.