Jonathan Haidt Moral Foundations Theory

The original theory proposed five foundations:

1. Care/Harm, one of the two liberals accept
2. Fairness/Cheating, one of the two liberals accept
3. Loyalty/Betrayal,
4. Authority/Subversion,
5. Sanctity/Degradation.
Conservatives accept all 5 internationally. Dominant worldwide.

Newly, a sixth

6. Liberty/Oppression, because Libertarians use it almost exclusively. Further here

Definitions for the original 5:
- Care: cherishing and protecting others; opposite of harm
- Fairness or proportionality: rendering justice according to shared rules; opposite of cheating
- Loyalty or ingroup: standing with your group, family, nation; opposite of betrayal
- Authority or respect: submitting to tradition and legitimate authority; opposite of subversion
- Sanctity or purity: abhorrence for disgusting things, foods, actions; opposite of degradation

Recommended article: Haidt, J., & Graham, J. (2009). Planet of the Durkheimians, Where Community, Authority, and Sacredness are Foundations of Morality. In J. Jost, A. C. Kay, & H. Thorisdottir (Eds.), Social and Psychological Bases of Ideology and System Justification. It is on SSRN. [Here is a link to the manuscript, which may be easier to read than the scanned version of the final article.]
–"This is the most sociological article I’ve ever written, and its one I’m most proud of. When I first read Durkheim, in graduate school, I had an experience of enlightenment — my first view of societies as emergent organisms. This article applies the ideas of Durkheim, Tonnies, and Weber to Moral Foundations Theory."

For a general overview of Moral Foundations Theory:
Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 47, p. 55-130. Link to manuscript here

Listening to Liberals

Never let a liberal tell you what's so.

Never let them do "research," tell you what's about to happen, tell you what did happen, never let them count anything or find sums, averages, medians, differences, unions or intersections.

Never let them tell you anything about "the vast majority of." Never let them tell you what "the overwhelming scientific consensus" is.

Above all, never let them explain to you the motives of their opposition. There is no ignorance on the planet more pervasive or persistent than the ignorance liberals have about the motives of their opposition. They don't know. They don't care. They're proud of not knowing. They're proud of not caring. But still they opine...

I Endorse

Do I have problems with racism?

Yes, no matter who is doing it.

Do I have problems with hostility and contempt towards one's fellow citizens?

Yes, no matter who is doing it.

Do I have problems with people using their ideologies/beliefs as an excuse to be shitty to their fellow citizens?

Yes, no matter who is doing it.

Do I loathe people who use their anger and ideologies as justifications for being assholes?

Yes, no matter who is doing it.

---Marc MacYoung

Understanding Presbyterians in the US

OK, this is from my viewpoint. I'm old, and I have a history dragged along with me. Keep in mind that despite the occasional problem, I tend to end up at Presbyterian churches, because I know the compromises they are making ahead of time.

1. Presbyterians appear to have no calendar other than the one you buy at a thrift store. Minimal holidays, no guidance on Bible reading. This can be disorienting for those of us who need the Bible to get through the day. Suggestion: buy a King James Bible. Yeah, the adult bible, the one you need a dictionary with. The King James Bible Companion is an ideal bible dictionary: it's cheap (50 cents), done by an expert, and only 24 pages. Relax, the KJV is easier than the Shakespeare you had to read in 8th grade. Now, add to it a year (date) reading plan typically on a card (or a page, see this (PDF), and have a couple of other friends track along with you. You can share insights and questions at lunch on Sunday. Don't worry about the other bibles printing something else: they have to have their own copyrights to make money and want to be paid for their work. Most of the modern bibles don't even use the text the KJV was using, but a compilation with a recent copyright date to translate from. The KJV is based on the same text John Chrysostom was using to explain the scriptures (347-407), as well as the one translated into Gothic for Western Europe by Ulfilas (311-383). This is the text that the Church has carried through history, the one that is the majority of old manuscripts we have.

2. Watch for the pastor to worry about sins that aren't notably present in his congregation. This goes further than being terrified of preaching 1 Peter 3. If you're attacking the sins of people not there, don't be surprised if the sins of people there increase.

3. Presbyterians tend to insist on the latest 'easy-to-read for children' bibles. They disdain the KJV, saying they can't understand it. These people will usually admit to enjoying various Shakespeare plays if you bring the conversation around that way, so they are not being truthful. The oddest thing is that they use these children's bibles in the adult service, trying to wrest them into saying the words they need them to say for the next point in the sermon. Don't be surprised in the midst of this "easy to understand" bible reading they interject Greek words, or Hebrew or Aramaic words, which the congregation doesn't understand, but can repeat the sounds of. They don't really want an easy to read bible. They want difficulty, obscurity, and elite password status.

4. Presbyterians don't always want to believe what's in front of their eyes. Watch for them to bring up both Greek Bibles copyrighted a handful of years ago and a short lexicon whenever they disagree with the bible they are reading. Lexicons are a poor tool since they have no feeling for the structure of the verses around which the translation is occurring, and therefore advance suggestions that a reasonable person would flee from. But they are used because they supply many words to allow for many interpretations of a word in Greek to English. They are meant for experts in Greek as a short reference. If you're using the KJV and the Companion recommended above, see what parallel constructions you can find near the word you don't understand, or use Cruden's Concordance to find several uses of the word.

5. It is accidentally funny to note Presbyterians' use of Greek words like "agape" and "phileo". They don't know they are translating from the Koine trade language rather than the high Greek language. The words are synonyms in Koine. They don't know any better. You may, if you find open-minded ones, offer them a test on which is appropriate to the verse. Watch them do slightly better than coin-tossing at getting the words correct. Sometimes they take the point. If you want to see this in action, watch Sam Gipp on Youtube: search for "Sam Gipp phileo" and spend an enjoyable hour. The real contrast in English is between "charity" and other relations. Charity is much more important (and means more than throwing pennies to orphans: take a moment with an OED and learn the word thoroughly).

6. It is not so funny to notice Presbyterians using words like "Yahweh" for "Jehovah" despite the thousand-odd ancient Hebrew manuscripts which use "Jehovah," and the many uses of "Jehu" or "Jeho" as part of a name, indicating which word it was derived from. It is definitely not funny to hear them use the word "Shekhinah," which is the name of a Canaanite goddess, consort to Yahweh, a Canaanite god. The word occurs nowhere in the Bible, and is an example of why we don't use the Talmud to understand the Bible.

7.How much time do Presbyterians spend urging people to do the deeds of the law? Lots. Some of them even use the phrase "we are justified by our actions," even though St. Paul disagrees with them (Rom. 3:20). Most are ignorant of the fact that it is God who transforms us (See Phil. 2:13), not we who earn it. Our role as toddlers is to pray always (1 Thessalonians 5:17), read his Word (Ephesians 6:17), walk where God shows us (Eph. 2:10), keeping in the will of God e.g. here, and confess to him our failures (1 John 1:9). Community projects are invitations to "walk" (in our case, toddle), in good works. We don't know what we accomplish.

8.A surprising number of Presbyterian churches have people who insist that they possess the charismatic gifts. Start with the assumption that they are deluded, and see if they can be avoided without surprising people. If not, find another church. Yes, God can do anything, no, I don't know his plan, but I note that the Bible is complete.

9.Poor Bible translation has consequences: Rom. 16:1 describes Phebe as a "servant", because, as we know from 1 Tim. 3:8,12, deacons are men, and we have no record in Acts of a church appointing a woman to this place. But once you change it to "deacon" or "deaconess", then you have an excuse to nominate women to church offices, and few churches can resist. Suddenly, they don't want to pay attention to the Bible speaking clearly against their next step (appointing women as teachers and preachers: 1 Cor. 14:34-35), because it doesn't fit what they want to do, and who they want to think of themselves as.

10.Hallmark holidays will show up, typically with sermons that make you wish you had gone out for brunch instead. Mother's day (praising mothers), Father's day (condemning fathers), &c &c.

Voting in California

In the process of watching California deal with COVID, I'm learning something I didn't want to know. The government really has two classes of people when it deals with us: the important people and the unimportant ones. And it treats the unimportant ones as toys, not really caring what it does. That's how it can throw them out of work and make it difficult to pick up side jobs at the same time: they don't care.

But they are people. They may have made mistakes here or there, but that doesn't mean they aren't full of interest and surprise, each in their own way an individual work of genius. They do not deserve officious meddling in their lives, but help in the midst of the mess we're dealing with. It's the Democratic party which completely dominates politics in California, so it's their fault for setting this up. Sure, the Republicans could probably create a different mess, but this one is not theirs.

So, on the ballot, if the party says, "Democratic" I'm voting for some other guy, even if I don't like them very much.

Becoming a Diabetic at 64 (Draft in progress)

Some things are expected. Some aren't. Being informed at 64 that you're a diabetic is one of the unexpected ones.

Providence St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica caught this problem. I thought I was coming in to deal with shortness of breath and a developing heart valve problem. My first clue should have been the peremptory instruction to check myself in at the Emergency Department, interrupting the Monday afternoon.

After quite a series of tests, I was moved to the intensive care unit, where they tried to put my system back together. They did a wonderful job, and started the process of explaining that although I had a heart valve problem, that wasn't the problem that needed to be addressed right now: the collapsed insulin-response system took priority.

Over the next several days, I learned to get blood sugar readings before meals, and take insulin shots to cover the expected food intake. It was an education. Finally, yesterday, I was sent home. Sadly, I was sent home with "One Touch" and "One Touch Ultra 2" blood sugar test kits, which failed immediately. After serious investigation, including taking them apart, the flaw was revealed: dead batteries, no chargers. Respnse: take into CVS to the photo counter, buy replacement batteries, and put them in. Now they work, and I have spare batteries. Still out of testers and lancets, but I'm sure I'll find them somewhere. Turns out what I have to do is call CVS locations until they say "yes" to the lancet question. Problem solved.


Since the Christians have produced more than 200 new forgeries since the 19th Century, and their seminaries continue to work on new ones, this is hardly surprising. Dismaying, perhaps. But if they wanted texts that had stood the test of time, we have them already.

What is displayed in the museum may not be what it says.

In the midst of all of this argument over the text, the KJV is recognizably based on the same text that John Chrysostom was using to explain the scriptures (347-407), as well as the one that was translated into Gothic for Western Europe by Ulfilas (311-383). This is the one Christians have been using for some time, and that the Church holds. The modern habit to substitute texts that we weren't using for reasons that scholars have to publish papers, and they need something to argue about, wasn't the major problem.

The Glamour of Evil

The people who write about "the banality of evil" are missing an important point. Evil has glamour, and the glamour is meant to hide what's going on. Look at the faces in the photograph. These are the commanders, the soldiers, the clerks of Auschwitz. They don't see a problem with what they are doing. They don't remember, if they ever heard, the questions parents and godparents answer at baptism:

Baptism: The celebrant questions the parents and godparents:

A. Celebrant: Do you reject Satan?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: And all his works?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

B. Celebrant: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God's children?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Celebrant: Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

But there is glamorous evil, often subtle, as in certain ideologies or lifestyles. They don’t seem evil, but they end in evil, or in emptiness, which is the same thing—to miss out on the ultimate richness of life, the fullness of meaning and peace and community we were made for.
One broad example could be the so-called American Dream.

In the 1939 novel Ask the Dust, the young immigrant protagonist wanders the streets musing to himself: “Los Angeles, give me some you. Los Angeles, come to me the way I came to you, my feet over your streets, you pretty town, I loved you so much, you sad flower in the sand, you pretty town.” He soon realizes that California’s many promises—the women he passes on the street, the golf clubs in storefront windows, the blue-green swimming pools—don’t deliver. He will never possess them. “You’ll eat hamburgers year after year, and live in dusty vermin-infested apartments and hotels.”

A better-known example of the American story is Jackie Kennedy. She represents an acceptable glamour that many admired. Still, the Kennedy family represents a vision of the good life which doesn’t end happily ever after. In the movie Jackie, Bobby vents to her his anguish at the collapse of the family political dynasty: “What did we accomplish? We’re just—we’re just the beautiful people. Right? Isn’t that what we are?” She laments in her own fog: “I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy.”

Each of us, too, will be faced with glamour that can lead us astray.