September 17, 2013

Investigating "everyday sadists."

"In the study’s first experiment..."
Students who chose to be bug-killers were presented with three cups, each holding a live pill bug. To anthropomorphize the bugs, each was given a name: Muffin, Ike, or Tootsie. Bug-killers had to drop a bug into a modified coffee grinder, force the top down, and grind the bug up....

(... Though the machines emitted crunching sounds, the researchers said, “no bugs were harmed in the experiment.”)

During the execution of the assignment, some bug-killers quit after one or two. But some asked for more bugs....

24 comments:

Revenant said...

This isn't a test of sadism, it is a test of empathy. There's a pretty significant difference there.

David said...

"Students who chose to be bug killers . . . ."

Anyone here who has never killed a bug?

Anyone who has never killed one unnecessarily?

I was interested the experiments where students thought they were administering an electric shock to others. Does this add anything to those?

And that Darwin guy. Killer. Sadist.

Ron said...

You need plenty of bugs to get a smooth grind...hopefully a burr grinder was used...better flexibility!

n.n said...

Here's an experiment that The New York Times and its readers will appreciate.

Students who chose to be murderers were presented with three cups, each holding a live human embryo. To anthropomorphize the embryo, each was given a name: Barack, Harry, or Nancy. Murderers had to drop an embryo into a modified coffee grinder, force the top down, and grind the embryo up....

Everyday sadism. Around one million in America, and several hundred million more around the world, every year. As with other forms of sadism, it has a selfish, sensual motivation.

n.n said...

During the execution of the experiment, some murderers quit after one or two. But some asked for more embryos and fetuses...

They were incapable of self-moderating behavior or accepting responsibility for their voluntary actions. There may have been other indecent motives, but we refrain from identifying and classifying them.

Naked Surfer said...

“Do you find me sadistic? ... there's nothing sadistic in my actions ... No, Kiddo, this moment, this is me at my most … masochistic.”

Going from Panda bear mommy infanticide to insect sadism connections. What a tour.

Surely there must be ethological science bug killing predictors found in things like the differences between sadism and masochism in one’s choice of which bugs to kill? and how? And when? And why? Are repeat roach killers are the masochists? And repeat praying mantis killers are the sadists?

Do lady bug lovers predict as eusocial?

Up the food chain a bit from bugs, did Bill really have to die in Kill Bill? Needless revenge? Justified masochistic revenge against masochism? Or just entertainment, Kiddo? What are the bugs really telling us these days? What if I have a blood lust revenge to kill every bug in my house? And get unmeasured satisfaction out it? God, I’m getting worked up ...

Ann Althouse said...

Experiments like this, done on students, make me skeptical.

Can't the students figure out this is a psychology test and they are supposed to rebel?

If some do and some don't, isn't it more of an intelligence test than a sadism test?

Naked Surfer said...
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Naked Surfer said...
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Fritz said...

Were the ones who asked for more bugs encouraged to go into biology?

ddh said...

The experiment tests the willingness to obey people who say they are scientists. Grinding bugs is stupid, pointless, and cruel.

Naked Surfer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Sorry, folks, but if there are ants infesting my kitchen, I use chemical weapons. (I am not a signatory to the CWC, but if they ever come calling, I will willingly surrender my stockpiles.) OTOH, individual larger insects or arachnids generally get tossed out into the great outdoors, assuming I can catch them. I do not kill anything unless I have to.

St. George said...

Calling Dr. Milgram!

Cedarford said...

There is an empathy threshold in most people. An example is people think nothing of putting a half a cup of bleach in a stagnant rain cistern, despite it killing billions of bacteria, algae, baby mosquitos.
Or munching on living plant tissue!

Or people think nothing of - on a farm at least - throwing 3 "life begins at conception!" fertilized chicken eggs in a blender but would regard throwing 3 baby chicks in the same blender to make cat food tartar - as unthinkable. (Which speaks to a commonsense human trait the Right to Lifers hate - fetuses are naturally lower on the empathy scale than live birth or above - and society values life that contributes (human included) over the parasitic, milignant, or mentally non-cognitive.

There is even an empathy threshold for "killing for fun and pleasure" - not killing of necessity. That would be for both personal killing and contract killing.
I fish and practice catch and release for fun..but also know that certin fish only go for live bait. So to have fun, it means slowly killing the baitfish, the cricket, or worm on the hook. I have no empathy for them. Nor a pillbug if I could find a fish that loves skewered and mortally injured pillbugs as bait. And the pleasure of snakeskin or lizard leather gives rise to Thai snake and lizard farms where the killing is done by "agents" operating to give the owners the product the consumer wants.

Cedarford said...

Ann Althouse said...
Experiments like this, done on students, make me skeptical.

Can't the students figure out this is a psychology test and they are supposed to rebel.

======================
I am on top of that skeptical of students that have natural judgment or emotions impeded by powerful faculty members they wish to be on the good side of for possible grades and recommendations - in any way making for unconflicted unbiased test subjects.

They are only used because they are quite handy and easy to grab on campuses with no real effort needed to find and recruit, and low cost or no cost test subjects, for the profs. If you look at the social science statistics methodology, you see the profs ingore a statistically relevant population sample for their experiments. And just use handy eager puppy students from similar background, similar US culture, part brainwashed by PC in many colleges, and of similar ability from a very narrow age group.

Then the charlatan social sciences profs write books and give lectures and get more grants to describe what the students did as typical of all humankind.

John Constantius said...

I tend to agree with ddh. This is about people who are willing to follow orders if they come from people *in authority* (and there are many, many people like that).

I've always been that guy who catches insects in a paper towel and tosses them outside (even gross ones like silverfish). I remember crying as a young boy of eight when I was mowing the lawn and accidentally ran over a praying mantis. My mother was absolutely bewildered that it bothered me, but it still makes me sad to this day.

As for pill bugs (we called them "rollie-pollies"), as a young lad I considered them the cutest bugs next to ladybugs. I can't imagine what kind of creep would intentionally grind one up regardless of the lab coat some "doctor" was wearing. Anyone who agreed to was no doubt hoping they could drown a kitten next and then move onto people. #Norman Bates

Illuninati said...

As Ann pointed out, this experiment may have been lame, but we know that humans have a deep sadistic streak. Public executions are often well attended spectator sports. In society in which human blood lust was best documented was Rome and the games in the Coliseum. The ancient Aztecs were champions at the sadistic blood sports. As the researcher correctly pointed out this sadistic streak is just as well developed in women as in men or perhaps even more so.

This innate human instinct to find pleasure by inflicting pain on others is what Christians call our evil nature. Neo-Pagans love to criticize Christians for their failures and there have been many, but when they have cast aside the inhibitions set up by our loving father god, they have repeatedly reverted back to unimaginable savagery. The list includes the French revolutionaries, the Marxist/Communists who hold the World's record for mass murder, the Nazis, and yes n.n. the modern abortionists.

tim maguire said...

This is one of those great experiments that can be almost anything you need it to be. Bravo to them for thinking of a test that will allow them to conclude nearly whatever they wish once its doe.

Cedarford, you really should refrain from writing about what right to lifers think. You haven't a clue. Your chicken example just shows that. It also suggests that you are a cannibal with the odd scruple that you will not eat scrambled children.

Peter said...

Wait until the experimenters find out about those electric bug-killing devices. And bug poisons!

Is one truly an outlier if one has about as much empathy for bugs as for the microorganisms killed by antisepsis and antibiotics?

SGT Ted said...

Its not a test of anything, other than peoples relative squeamishness over killing bugs and the personal morality of the experiment author.

They had them do bug activities and them judged them as "sadists", based on the authors personal morality and hang-ups about killing bugs.

Killing bugs, especially in an experiment that requires one to kill bugs, has nothing to do with sadism. He might as well have called them "sinners" for killing Gods creatures. Its the faux secular morality of urban types.

SGT Ted said...

To be clear: This wasn't science.

He had them do activities and then made moral judgments on them and then wrote them down and called it science.

mikee said...

As a grad student I lived in a complex of old cinderblock duplex apartments. The manager lived there, too, and over time we became good friends.

I asked him about the toads in the complex, which hopped like lightning whenever I came near one. They were, quite honestly, the fastest toads I have ever seen in my life.

He laughed and said that over the past 12 years of working there he had mowed the lawn about once a week.

His first year there, he carefully moved toads, which were quite plentiful, out of the way of the mower as he did the lawn.

The second year, he got tired of the stupidity of the toads and ran over those too slow to move out of the way.

The following years, he noticed that he ran over fewer and fewer toads, despite their population remaining high every year.

He had selectively bred supertoads, quite inadvertently, in just a little more than a decade.

Sometimes apparent cruelty has interesting outcomes.

ALP said...

So what does this say about the typical gardener who loves to chop slugs in half with scissors? That is common practice here in the Pacific NW.

Its tough to be a successful gardener without a willingness to kill a few bugs OR send "hit man predator bugs" after the ones ruining your crop.

Nothing makes me happier than the thought of a bunch of spider mites, aphids and mealy bugs getting pulverized in a food processor.