by Yoel Inbar, Harvard University;
and David Pizarro, Cornell University
– March 1, 2009
. . . On its face, disgust may seem less relevant to legal judgments . . . its influence on courtroom proceedings is not intuitively obvious. Nonetheless . . . disgust plays an important role in a much wider set of social and moral judgments than was once believed. . . . sheds light on what disgust is, how it influences judgments, and why legal scholars, judges, and attorneys should pay attention to it.
. . . This basic disgust reaction to noxious stimuli is what researchers have come to refer to as “core” disgust — the disgust that is tied to those elicitors that signal the possibility of contamination. . . . A fair amount of research is converging on the conclusion that feeling core disgust seems to make us harsher moral judges, even when the person or action we’re judging has nothing to do with the thing that originally disgusted us. . . . evidence of two ways in which disgust seems related to moral judgments—as a cause of moral harshness and as the result of moral infractions. . . . researchers investigated whether a subtle disgust manipulation would affect subsequent, unrelated moral judgments. . . . evidence implicating disgust in moral judgment comes from findings that disgust is elicited by moral infractions that have little to do with the elicitors of core disgust . . . there are a few key areas where disgust is likely to be of special concern. . . .
. . . A juror who is especially sensitive to disgust, and thus more likely to find purity violations offensive, would be more likely to convict . . . be aware of the role that disgust can play in moral condemnations of such behavior. . . . Infusing moral values into science is often considered one of the worst “sins” a scientist can commit. In studying moral psychology it is especially necessary to maintain an objective stance in order to arrive at an accurate descriptive account of how morality works; we are interested in how and why people make moral judgments, not how they should make moral judgments (that is the business of moral philosophers, after all). . . .
[Comments from John McCabe, appended to the paper.] . . . Emotional responses like disgust (and anger) not only lead to greater moral outrage . . . but also to greater certainty in judgments. This greater certainty can lead jurors to use less effort . . . in their examination and processing of trial-related information. Some even speculate that emotional responses are a heuristic: jurors recall the magnitude of their negative emotional reaction to certain evidence or testimony and use it as a generic prejudice, a gauge of the probability of the defendants’ culpability or liability unrelated to the facts of the case. As the paradigm of the decision-maker as solely a “rational man (or woman)” quickly recedes into the past, the role of emotions such as disgust in jury decision-making is ripe for understanding. . . .
'I think those guys were fooling around up there,
and I don't think we really know what they were doing yet.'"
As quoted in _The Aviation Consumer_, from an interview done in September 1979.
. . . . moral turpitude, n. gross violation of standards of moral conduct, vileness,
. . . . . . . . . . such that an act involving moral turpitude was intentionally evil, making the act a crime.
. . . . The existence of moral turpitude can bring a more severe criminal charge or penalty
. . . . . . . . . . . . . for a criminal defendant.
-- Acknowledge and counter this subtle unconscious infusion, this diversion,
affecting working-investigators during the official investigation;
by explicitly recognizing the distracting influence of widespread gossip;
-- employ Human Factors Specialists, in-house, during the investigation,
to prevent this unconscious investigator-bias; and to thus
avoid "scientific misconduct", induced by these effects of
the distracting bias that has grown-up from widespread gossip.
"Infusing moral values into science ...
the worst sin a scientist can commit."
April 1979 Mysterious airliner upset ==> perception: each pilot an "ideal hero" : Investigators Uncertain of cause.
CVR's magnetic-tape arrived at NTSB-Lab ==> mag' tape examined == > voice recorder's mag' tape had been degaussed.
NTSB-staff contributed their human inference : an assumption : a pilot had "bulk ERASED" the mishap- CVR.
Perception : a pilot wrong-doer : CORE DISGUST : each pilot suddenly transformed into an anti-hero.
Summer '79 C/B- Rumor : Pilots deploy Flaps during CRZ : as a first-explanation
==> Boeing-NTSB Disgust Manipulation.
A second explosive-assumption, another layer of Core Disgust :
More Outrage ==> Investigators' certainty : NTSB- staff's over-confidence : less staff-effort.
NTSB managers' Procedural Non-Compliance (PNC or "pink") as their most convenient investigation alternative.
Manufacturer's post-accident "simulation" & "flight test" ==> favorable data-dredging :
selection bias : voodoo correlations of manufacturer's test-data with mishap-FDR-data
In April 1979, within a few days of the first press reports about the airliner dive that happened during evening hours of Wednesday the 4th, the early rumors were born.
These rumors, born within days of the accident, matured into various entertaining stories -- and even without the internet, the spread of rumors was as quick as the rumors after the TWA 800 inflight-breakup in July 1996.
By the summer of 1979, the USA's investigating authority, NTSB, had acted as one of the main contributors, with repeated telling of the rumors. These repeated accounts, spreading misinformation about a B727 mishap, even confused NTSB Board Members and the staff -- who alternately repeated the Boeing Scenario, and then backed-away from the rumors (denied advancing the rumors when challenged by ALPA); then later in June of 1981 voted to accept the rumored Boeing Scenario as their official P.C.
NTSB's Investigator-in-Charge worked closely with the manufacturer, to insure that the mishap-pilots were prime suspects: The best selling airliner, from the USA's biggest exporter, was not to be doubted by USA's NTSB-investigators. It was an "independent" investigation, with the Boeing Scenario as its pre-agreed conclusion.
The NTSB's propagation of rumor, repeatedly, advanced the goal of the the USA's "independent" Safety Board -- "a self reinforcing process" described as an Availability Cascade.
November 19th, 1979, NTSB's Chairman King wrote ALPA's President:
in a section highly critical of the airline management ...
a predetermined plan of deception at the Inquiry ...
an attempt to conceal
a series of disastrous administrative blunders ...
I am forced reluctantly to say that
I had to listen to
an orchestrated litany of lies
... disappearance of documents ...
This REVIEW by a Public Inquiry
should be a lesson : to correct the weakness in USA law
regarding USA's "independent" Safety Board.
The Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry,
the single dominant and effective cause was
the mistake by airline officials
who programmed the aircraft
to fly directly at Mt Erebus and
neglected to tell the aircrew. ...
The decision to hold a royal commission had been announced
by Attorney-General Jim McLay in early March 1980
– before Ron Chippindale, the Chief Inspector of Air Accidents,
had released his report.
Media-bias, as fed by that country's "investigative authority"
(USA's NTSB, NZ's MoT, Canada's former CASB, UK's AIB)
Concurrent with the BOEING-ntsb investigation of the mysterious upset-dive of B727 N840TW,
similar complaints, public outrage,
arose during the investigation of Air New Zealand 901, Mt Erebus, 28Nov79 :
New Zealand's public-release of the official accident report
the Chippindale report , was on 12 June 1980.
“Despite its careful catalogue of ... contributing causes,
it had very clearly placed the responsibility for the accident upon the aircrew.”
Media outlets fueled the public perception of an incompetent flight crew with headlines like:
“CRASH REPORT POINTS TO ERROR BY DC10 CAPTAIN”, and
“FLIGHT THOUSANDS OF FEET TOO LOW.”
Calls for a public inquiry into the Erebus disaster,
shortly after the accident,
continued amid controversy over who had received Chippindale's interim report.
Err- genesis : the authoritative statement.
Infusing moral values
into science . . .
Infusing moral values
into science . . .
Images below are from the award winning TV-documentary:
''The Plane That Fell From the Sky,'' _CBS Reports_:
CBS News, broadcast over network TV (Wednesday July 14, 1983), 10pm EST.
(or "repeat something long enough and it will become true").
The driving mechanism involves a combination of informational and reputational motives:
Individuals endorse the perception partly by learning from the apparent beliefs of others and
partly by distorting their public responses in the interest of maintaining social acceptance. . . .
Availability entrepreneurs - - activists who manipulate the content of public discourse - strive to trigger availability cascades likely to advance their agendas. Their availability campaigns may yield ... benefits . . .
Kuran, Timur; Cass R Sunstein (1998). "Availability Cascades ...". Stanford Law Review 51: 683.
Some of those investigators working the TWA800- investigation, in the summer of 1996, had suffered through a similar destructive-rumor, as their major distraction during the INVESTIGATION of the "mysterious" case of TWA841 in 1979.
Two decades before that, there was the rumor-driven investigation of Captain Spong aboard the fatal CFIT of the Martin-404 against Sandia Peak (TWA260 / 19Feb55), with investigator-errs resulting in three revisions of the CAB's official AAR.
Murder-Suicide, and sabotage, have been recurring themes circulated as post-mishap gossip. The Crash Axe rumor, popular after UA585 at COS, has been a recurring distraction, similar to more unpleasant gossip circulated after earlier "mysterious" inflight upsets: attributed to a purportedly homosexual-suicidal-pilot.
Often these myths began at the airline, perhaps as the usual crew-room gossip. During and after an investigation in the western world, such rumors were routinely discarded, not mentioned in the official accident report (conforming to ICAO rules stating that "rumor has no place" in accident investigation report). This history of suppressing these historic rehashed-rumors (not mentioned in the official AAR) has resulted in the now limited accounts of historic post-mishap gossip and rumor -- a now shallow history of the role of rumor afflicting working-investigators (employed by the manufacturer and employed by the investigating-authority). [See videos on the SilkAir case, where NTSB employees openly acted as advocates, advancing the Boeing-rumors after that mysterious airliner upset-breakup.]
The role of post-mythap rumor and gossip, explosive-assumptions, affecting the investigators' course of inquiry, has not been well studied. The NTSB employees, Board Members, IIC's , and Human Factors Specialists, sometimes contributed to a popular myth, and sometimes spread misinformation.
Failure - Interactions
Dan Rather, CBS News:
"... the talk of coffee houses . . . amazed how
a rumor takes off like mildew . . .