Home > Uncategorized > Our buggy moral code and the English riots.

Our buggy moral code and the English riots.

I want to share a TED talk with you and relate it to the English riots over the past week.

Vodpod videos no longer available.
In this TED talk Dan Ariely talks about experiments he has done to explore why people cheat and why it doesn’t add up to how rational people think is behind the riots.
ResPublica posted an article today on how liberal Britain caused the riots. David Goodhart explains that “the teeny-bopper looter …. [has] barricaded themselves into an un-political counter-culture of contempt for the straight world…This culture helps to make failure self-fulfilling; it’s based on the idea that white or straight society is fixed against you and that violent transgression is therefore the only root to status and reward.” He acknowledges that it is almost a human reaction. Dan Ariely in the video says cheating (stealing) and dishonesty that blights our society from top to bottom – banker’s bonuses, phone-hacking scandal, MPs expenses, the riots are not about one bad apple or someone who has a rationalised idea of why they are doing a crime but we have in the UK created a culture in which we say that cheating, stealing and dishonesty are ok if its within your personal fudge factor. Its that culture we have to fight.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t improve education, eradicate gang culture or anything else that people come up with as the rationale behind the riots but we need to fight the culture of dishonesty in our country.
P.S. To all the people saying that the riots are about disaffection, poverty etc. why do you think Scotland, who has probably all of the reasons and causes that you mention behind the riots, doesn’t have riots everyday. Scotland has all the disaffection, poverty, could argue bad education system, could argue that are education system tells us how bad the English have treated the Scots and some might argue that it still happens, we have knife crime and gang culture etc. etc. yet we don’t riot.
Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 13, 2011 at 06:25

    I suspect that this is right — and I wish we could get the people who were stilling at the moment when they were doing so, and ask them about their moral considerations at that moment. Maybe next time.


  2. August 16, 2011 at 22:09

    That is a good alternative to the leftist argument that it’s only do to wealth divide. Personally my intuition tells me it’s probably a mix of factors. I’m not going to bother testing this.

    • August 16, 2011 at 22:20

      Your right – its probably a mix of factors. I was reading more of Dan’s book and there is an interesting idea about market norms and social norms. A ‘social contract’ being if you help someone they’ll help you out further down the line whereas market norm is you buying a service. If you try to mix these i.e. going round to parents for dinner and then trying to pay for it is putting market norm into a social norm.
      I personally think that this countries ‘social norms’ has broken down. We’ve introduced market norms where social norms used to be and now we can’t go back.

  3. Matthew Gibson
    October 6, 2011 at 21:07

    This is great. Very similar idea to the higher risk taking in groups. Great post.

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