So, are humans good people? Are we born with a sense of morality? Or are we blank slates waiting for our parents to teach us right from wrong? Maybe we are born nasty devils and have to be taught to be kind and gentle? Most movies now are telling us that it is fun to be vile. That Ted movie teaches our kids go ahead use the F word and others as often as you like and watch the DVD as often as you like too.
Our most popular video games say Gear Up For War and kill everyone in your sight as quickly as you can and now in view of recent disasters people are learning evil real fast. Do we need our parents, teachers and religions to whip us into shape? Well, lots of kids don’t even have parents around the house to even try. Most of them are out working stupid jobs just to pay the taxes.
The great philosopher Rousseau thought that babies were perfect idiots that knew nothing and so was the opinion of babies for many years. There is a place called The Baby Lab, The Infant Cognition Center at Yale University directed by Karen Wynn a Psychologist who has managed to get into those tiny heads without Frankenstein electrons stuck to their heads and found out the moral fabric of babies through puppetry. Yes puppets and stuffed animals that attract all babies attention.
Study after study on different children came back with good results. They even condemned puppets that were anti-social to others. Their findings were published in Nature Magazine with their article exploring social evaluation by proverbial infants in 2007. They continued with more evaluations throughout the years.
We have found that what we thought was an ignorant and unknowing baby is really an alarming creature with lots of subtle knowledge. Discovering this in babies that can’t walk or talk yet or even crawl yet suggests that we must be born with morality. The core of all humans share the understanding of right or wrong as part of our biological nature. So, where does all the evil come from in the world?
Bias. A 7 month old child preferred cheerios over graham crackers. The stuffed animal who also preferred the cheerios became the toy of choice for the child in hundreds of sample kids. They had positive feelings for the toy that was just like them. 87% of the kids tested even did not want anyone to bother with the toy that didn’t like what they liked. This bias was seen in the fact that infants prefer to harm others that are unlike them.
We used to think that we were taught to hate. We are born to hate and at the drop of a hat we can create us vs. them. Welcome to our humanity I think.