You are currently browsing the daily archive for March 17, 2010.

Scientific proof that enviro-nazis are nasty people:

Every now and again there comes along a scientific study that proves beyond reasonable doubt what you instinctively know to be true: wine is good for you, exercise is dangerous, and self-righteous environmentalists are lying, cheating, thieving degenerates.

I’m exaggerating only a little. Do Green Products Make Us Better People?, a paper in the latest edition of the journal Psychological Science, argues that those who wear what the authors call the “halo of green consumerism” are less likely to be kind to others, and more likely to cheat and steal. Faced with various moral choices – whether to stick to the rules in games, for example, or to pay themselves an appropriate wage – the green participants behaved much worse in the experiments than their conventional counterparts. The short answer to the paper’s question, then, is: No. Greens are mean.

The authors, two Canadian psychologists, came up with an intriguing explanation for this. “Virtuous acts,” they write, “can license subsequent asocial and unethical behaviour.” It’s the yin-yang theory of psychology, or “compensatory ethics”, to give it its proper name. Buy an organic potato, then go home and beat your wife with The Guardian. Hop smugly into a green hybrid car, then use it to run over little old ladies doing their shopping.

I’m more than a bit dubious about this “compensatory ethics” argument (as is the author in the subsequent paragraphs), because it implies that everyone’s morality works to some kind of zero-sum baseline which smacks to me of Manichaeism.

To me, the root of this kind of behavior probably lies closer to pure hubris:  Because I, the True Green, am associated with a Very Important Cause, I in turn become a Very Important Person.  Therefore, it’s natural that I treat all those little people around me with contempt, saving all my nobility for the Cause.

Know where else I’ve seen this phenomenon? Among hard-core feminists in positions of power.  In all my years in law firms, I never saw anyone treat their female secretaries with more brutality and disdain than the more cause-y woman partners.

I think the root also has something to do with the kind of cause involved and the kind of person attracted to it as well.  Despite the article’s attempt to sweep religion in, it strikes me that most of this sort of behavior is exhibited by the acolytes of lefty, secularist movements, the type who love people as a concept – or more specifically, as a political commodity – but can’t stand people as individuals.  (What was it Uncle Joe Stalin said about a single death being a tragedy but a million deaths being a statistic?  It’s something related to that mentality.)  I’m not saying there aren’t religious bullies as well, because there are.  But such bullying is contrary to religious ethics (at least among Christians) because it ignores the humility which must be at the core of such ethics – humility before God, as well as the injunction to love the sinner while hating the sin.   There is no such component to the more secular causes, at least that I’m aware of.   They’re guilt-free in the sense that their adherents answer to nobody but themselves.  (They’ll say that they have a duty to “Humanity”, but when it comes down to it that really means, “me and you and I’m not so sure about you.”)

Or as Peej O’Rourke put it in All The Trouble In The World, everybody wants to save the planet.  Nobody wants to help Mom with the dishes.


Blog Stats

  • 474,398 hits
March 2010