Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.

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faults in the clouds of delusion

Friday, November 23, 2007

Basic instincts

Here's another one of those "just *how* moronic can they get" type of stories. A group of schoolkids in Florida got together and decided that every Thursday they'd wear t-shirts with peace messages on them. Predictably, there was a backlash. Also predictably, the school administration denied them status as a "club or organization" because it claims they haven't submitted a formal proposal (the kids disagree). However, the thing that caught my eye was the nature of the backlash from some of the other students in the school. Other students are harassing the t-shirt wearers, for sure, but it's the nature of some of the messages that cries out for attention.

"I Love America, Because America Loves War"
(Wha?! Yes, Rambo, now get your pimply ass to Iraq.)

"If peace is the answer, it must be a stupid question"
(You asked it, Dub. Remember: "Why do they hate us?")

Even these are sort of predictable. The one that takes the cake is the reaction in kind. The anti-peace movement in that school has also decided ot sport t-shirts with messages. And the motifs it has adopted for its t-shirts -- wait for it -- are swastikas and Confederate flags. I can do no better than quote:

The Confederate shirts they wear express support for the troops in Iraq, and nothing more. Joseph said the shirts have nothing to do with racism. “Someone took something that stood for peace and twisted it” in regards to the swastikas (drawn by a third group) and the Confederate flag, he said.

Well of course! We're out there fighting for democracy, slavery, and ethnic cleansing. And all this time we thought it was only about democracy. The truth had to come out some day, didn't it?

***

The jaw-dropping moronicity reported on in this story reminded me of something called social identity theory -- a staple of every introductory social psych class. And in a funny coincidence, I just received an email about an interesting and well-written post that basically covers most of the material in an introductory social psych class. This will take a little while to go through if you're not just skimming but I assure you it's fascinating stuff to anyone with half a brain. It is stuff that I think should be compulsory in school -- every person with an education should be aware of. And I'd be really interested to see how you - regulars, irregulars, lurkers, passbyers - I'd be interested to see how you vote in the poll at the end.

If you go through it all, do swing by and let me know what you thought and how you voted.

8 Comments:

Blogger km said...

The nihilist kids got together and wore plain white tees to school.

My vote goes to the Stanford Prison experiment. Real heartwarming stuff.

11/25/2007 12:51 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

km:
nihilist -- brilliant!
stanford prison -- was that the first one in this set that you had heard about? asking because i went with the first one i'd heard about.

11/26/2007 12:45 AM  
Blogger Rahul said...

More moronicity, from a northern state this time:

A doctor gives verbal advice to protect the life of an unconscious man and she duly gets hit with attempted felonies by vindictive campus cops, with the connivance of the University of Michigan. Jury selection for her trial starts on Monday in a county courthouse in Ann Arbor.

11/26/2007 2:59 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

rahul:
that's hardly moronicity, it's plain viciousness, probably calculated, and it's not the first time such a thing has happened and won't be the last either.

11/26/2007 7:13 PM  
Blogger km said...

Umm..not really. I had heard about or read about most other theories on that page. The Prison Experiment is a chilling insight into groupthink and we all must agree that it is the most important theory out there or else.

11/27/2007 3:41 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

heh :-D it's actually a chilling insight into obedience; the asch study is a chilling insight into groupthink, and that's the one that i first learned about, and that's the one i went with.

11/27/2007 10:23 AM  
Blogger km said...

I wanted to say "obedience", but I thought "groupthink" sounded more hip. There's a name for that affliction, I am sure.

11/27/2007 9:23 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

no formal name springs to mind, hence i cannot resist but propose unkelism.

11/27/2007 9:49 PM  

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