Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy
Showing posts with label Hate. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hate. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The (moral) language of hate

Brendan Kennedy et al.
PNAS Nexus, Volume 2,
Issue 7, July 2023, 210


Humans use language toward hateful ends, inciting violence and genocide, intimidating and denigrating others based on their identity. Despite efforts to better address the language of hate in the public sphere, the psychological processes involved in hateful language remain unclear. In this work, we hypothesize that morality and hate are concomitant in language. In a series of studies, we find evidence in support of this hypothesis using language from a diverse array of contexts, including the use of hateful language in propaganda to inspire genocide (Study 1), hateful slurs as they occur in large text corpora across a multitude of languages (Study 2), and hate speech on social-media platforms (Study 3). In post hoc analyses focusing on particular moral concerns, we found that the type of moral content invoked through hate speech varied by context, with Purity language prominent in hateful propaganda and online hate speech and Loyalty language invoked in hateful slurs across languages. Our findings provide a new psychological lens for understanding hateful language and points to further research into the intersection of morality and hate, with practical implications for mitigating hateful rhetoric online.

Significance Statement

Only recently have researchers begun to propose that violence and prejudice may have roots in moral intuitions. Can it be the case, we ask, that the act of verbalizing hatred involves a moral component, and that hateful and moral language are inseparable constructs? Across three studies focusing on the language of morality and hate, including historical text analysis of Nazi propaganda, implicit associations across 25 languages, and extremist right-wing communications on social media, we demonstrate that moral language, and specifically, Purity-related language (i.e. language about physical purity, avoidance of disgusting things, and resisting our carnal desires in favor of a higher, divine nature) and Loyalty related language are concomitant with hateful and exclusionary language.


Here are some of the key findings of the study:
  • Hateful language is often associated with moral foundations such as purity, loyalty, and authority.
  • The type of moral content invoked through hate speech varies by context.
  • Purity language is prominent in hateful propaganda and online hate speech.
  • Loyalty language is invoked in hateful slurs across languages.
  • Authority language is invoked in hateful rhetoric that targets political figures or institutions.
The study's findings have important implications for understanding and mitigating hate speech.  By understanding the moral foundations that underlie hateful language, we can develop more effective strategies for countering it. For example, we can challenge the moral claims made by hate speech and offer alternative moral frameworks that promote tolerance and understanding.

Monday, March 27, 2023

White Supremacist Networks Gab and 8Kun Are Training Their Own AI Now

David Gilbert
Vice News
Originally posted 22 FEB 23

Here are two excerpts:

Artificial intelligence is everywhere right now, and many are questioning the safety and morality of the AI systems released by some of the world’s biggest companies, including Open AI’s ChatGPT, Bing’s Sydney, and Google’s Bard. It was only a matter of time until the online spaces where extremists gather became interested in the technology.

Gab is a social network filled with homophobic, christian nationalist and white supremacist content. On Tuesday its CEO Andrew Torba announced the launch of its AI image generator, Gabby.

“At Gab, we have been experimenting with different AI systems that have popped up over the past year,” Torba wrote in a statement. “Every single one is skewed with a liberal/globalist/talmudic/satanic worldview. What if Gab AI Inc builds a Gab .ai (see what I did there?) that is based, has no ‘hate speech” filters and doesn’t obfuscate and distort historical and Biblical Truth?”

Gabby is currently live on Gab’s site and available to all members. Like Midjourney and DALL-E, it is an image generator that users interact with by sending it a prompt, and within seconds it will generate entirely new images based on that prompt.

Echoing his past criticisms of Big Tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Torba claims that mainstream platforms are now “censoring” their AI systems to prevent people from discussing right-wing topics such as Christian nationalism. Torba’s AI, by contrast, will have ”the ability to speak freely without the constraints of liberal propaganda wrapped tightly around its neck.”


8chan, which was founded to support the Gamergate movement, became the home of QAnon in early 2018 and was taken offline in August 2019 after the man who killed 20 people at an El Paso Walmart posted an anti-immigrant screed on the site.

Watkins has been speaking about his AI system for a few weeks now, but has yet to reveal how it will work or when it will launch. Watkins’ central selling point, like Torba’s, appears to be that his system will be “uncensored.”

“So that we can compete against these people that are putting up all of these false flags and illusions,” Watkins said on Feb. 13 when he was asked why he was creating an AI system.  “We are working on our own AI that is going to give you an uncensored look at the way things are going,” Watkins said in a video interview at the end of January.But based on some of the images the engine is churning out, Watkins still has a long way to go to perfect his AI image generator.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The psychology of hate: Moral concerns differentiate hate from dislike

Pretus, C., Ray, J. L., et al. (2018, June 25). 


We investigated whether any differences in the psychological conceptualization of hate and dislike were simply a matter of degree of negativity (i.e., hate falls on the end of the continuum of dislike) or also morality (i.e., hate is imbued with distinct moral components that distinguish it from dislike). In three lab studies in Canada and the US, participants reported disliked and hated attitude objects and rated each on dimensions including valence, attitude strength, morality, and emotional content. Quantitative and qualitative measures revealed that hated attitude objects were more negative than disliked attitude objects and associated with moral beliefs and emotions, even after adjusting for differences in negativity. In study four, we analyzed the rhetoric on real hate sites and complaint forums and found that the language used on prominent hate websites contained more words related to morality, but not negativity, relative to complaint forums.


In our first study, we examined whether the conceptual differences between hate and dislike are simply a matter of degree of negativity or also a matter of morality. We found support for the intensity hypothesis—hated objects were viewed as more negative than disliked objects—suggesting that the difference between hate and dislike is indeed a matter of intensity. However, we also found support for the morality hypothesis—hated attitude objects were rated as more connected to participants’ core moral beliefs and were associated with higher levels of moral emotions (contempt, anger, and disgust) than disliked attitude objects—suggesting that the difference between hate and dislike may also be a matter of morality. We found convergent evidence for this latter hypothesis across quantitative and qualitative analyses, with self-reports, expressions of moral emotions, and spontaneous descriptions.

We note that differences in morality were attenuated when participants were asked about disliked attitudinal objects first. We discuss possible explanations of this order effect below. Importantly, the results supporting the morality hypothesis remained significant even when adjusting for negativity. Above and beyond the effect of negativity, both moral concerns and moral emotions explained the variance in ratings of hated versus disliked attitude objects. Likewise, participants spontaneously reported that hated objects were more closely tied to morality than disliked objects in their qualitative responses. These findings provide preliminary evidence that the conceptualization of hate may differ from dislike, and that morality may play a key role in explaining this difference.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Gab users are responding to the Doug Mastriano controversy by calling for antisemitic violence

Eric Hananoki
Originally posted 1 AUG 22

Following criticism of Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano paying Gab for campaign help, users of the far-right platform are responding by posting antisemitic death threats and calls for violence against Jewish people. Those posts included such hate speech as “exterminate all jews,” “WHERE IS ADOLPH WHEN HE IS NEEDED,” and, “Dear Lord, SMITE JOSH SHAPIRO, that weasel, lying Jew.”

Gab caters to far-right extremists, including people who have been banned from other social media platforms. Many of its users are antisemites and neo-Nazis who use the site to express their hatred toward Jewish people. Gab CEO Andrew Torba is a virulent antisemite who this year reposted praise of Gab as a place to get “differing opinions” on the Holocaust. 

Gab’s extremist history is well-known, especially to people in Pennsylvania. In 2018, a Gab user posted antisemitic and violent remarks on the site before he allegedly killed 11 people in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. 

Still, Mastriano said in a campaign filing that he paid $5,000 to Gab for “consulting” services on April 28. Shortly afterward, he did a video interview with Torba in which he praised the Gab founder for “giving us a platform for free speech” and said, “Thank God for what you’ve done.” Mastriano also made clear he followed Torba, telling him at one point that he “liked that one meme” the Gab CEO shared. 

On July 8, Media Matters unearthed Mastriano’s campaign expenditure. Shortly afterward, HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias reported that the payment seemed to be for new followers, as “every new account currently being created on Gab automatically follows Mastriano.” (Torba denied this.) 

Pittsburgh’s WESA reported on July 13 that a Gab post by Mastriano "on July 9 — a criticism of Democratic economic policies — received 157 comments. At least two dozen of those responses — the most common response by far — were antisemitic insults about state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the Democratic candidate in the race for governor. Shapiro is Jewish.” 

Curator's Note: Sorry for this very Pennsylvania specific article.  This politician cannot hold any office, let alone the Governor's office of my beloved Commonwealth.  We need to vote like our rights depend on it, because they do.

Mastriano is pictured in Washington DC (on the right) on January 6.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Hate and meaning in life: How collective, but not personal, hate quells threat and spurs meaning in life

A. Elnakouri, C. Hubley, & I. McGregor
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
Volume 98, January 2022,


Classic and contemporary perspectives link meaning in life to the pursuit of a significant purpose, free from incoherence. The typical assumption is that these meaningful purposes are prosocial, or at least benign. Here, we tested whether hate might also bolster meaning in life, via motivational states underlying significant purpose and coherence. In two studies (N = 847; Study 2 pre-registered), describing hatred (vs. mere dislike) towards collective entities (societal phenomena, institutions, groups), but not individuals, heightened feelings linked to the behavioral approach system (BAS; eagerness, determination, enthusiasm), which underlies a sense of significant purpose, and muted feelings linked to threat and the behavioral inhibition system (BIS; confused, uncertain, conflicted), which underlies a sense of incoherence. This high BAS and low BIS, in turn, predicted meaning in life beyond pre-manipulation levels. Exploratory analyses suggested that personal hatreds did not have the meaning-bolstering effects that collective hatreds had due to meaning-dampening negative feelings. Discussion focuses on motivation for collective and ideological hatreds in threatening circumstances.


Classic and contemporary  theories in psychology  and beyond pro-pose that various threats can cause zealous responses linked to collective hate  (Arendt,  1951;  Freud,  1937;  Jonas  et  al.,  2014).  The  present research offers one reason behind the appeal of collective hate in such circumstances: it’s ability to spur meaning in life. Shielded from the negativity of personal hate, collective forms of hate can mute threat and BIS-related  feelings,  boost  BAS-related  feelings,  thereby  fostering meaning in life. This research therefore helps us better understand the motivational drivers of hate and why it is an ever-present feature of the human condition.

Monday, May 31, 2021

Disgust Can Be Morally Valuable

Charlie Kurth
Scientific American
Originally posted 9 May 21

Here is no an excerpt:

Let’s start by considering disgust’s virtues. Not only do we tend to experience disgust toward moral wrongs like hypocrisy and exploitation, but the shunning and social excluding that disgust brings seems a fitting response to those who pollute the moral fabric in these ways. Moreover, in the face of worries about morally problematic disgust—disgust felt at the wrong time or in the wrong way—advocates respond that it’s an emotion we can substantively change for the better.

On this front, disgust’s advocates point to exposure and habituation; just like I might overcome the disgust I feel about exotic foods by trying them, I can overcome the disgust I feel about same-sex marriage by spending more time with gay couples. Moreover, work in psychology appears to support this picture. Medical school students, for instance, lose their disgust about touching dead bodies after a few months of dissecting corpses, and new mothers quickly become less disgusted by the smell of soiled diapers.

But these findings may be deceptive. For starters, when we look more closely at the results of the diaper experiment, we see that a mother’s reduced disgust sensitivity is most pronounced with regard to her own baby’s diapers, and additional research indicates that mothers have a general preference for the smell of their own children. This combination suggests, contra the disgust advocates, that a mother’s disgust is not being eliminated. Rather, her disgust at the soiled diapers is still there; it’s just being masked by the positive feelings that she’s getting from the smell of her newborn. Similarly, when we look carefully at the cadaver study, we see that while the disgust of medical students toward touching the cold bodies of the dissection lab is reduced with exposure, the disgust they feel toward touching the warm bodies of the recently deceased remained unchanged.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Americans hate political opponents more than they love their own party, study finds

Sandee LaMotte
Updated 29 Oct 2020

Americans now hate people in the opposite political party more than they love their own party, with disrupting implications about behavior, a new study finds.

"Compared to a few decades ago, Americans today are much more opposed to dating or marrying an opposing partisan; they are also wary of living near or working for one," according to the study published Thursday in the journal Science.

"They tend to discriminate, as when paying an opposing partisan less than a copartisan for identical job performance or recommending that an opposing partisan be denied a scholarship despite being the more qualified applicant," the study said.

Leveraging data from 1975 through 2017 in nine Western democracies -- Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States -- the researchers found that by 2017 what they call "out-party hate" was stronger in the United States than in any other nation.

"The current state of political sectarianism produces prejudice, discrimination and cognitive distortion, undermining the ability of government to serve its core functions of representing the people and solving the nation's problems," said lead author Eli Finkel, a professor of social psychology at both Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and Kellogg School of Management, in a statement.

Thursday, June 25, 2020

‘It’s a moral issue:’ Mississippi Baptist Convention calls for new state flag

Geoff Pender
Originally posted 23 June 20

The powerful Mississippi Baptist Convention on Tuesday called for state leaders to change the Mississippi flag, with its Confederate battle emblem in one corner.

“It has become apparent that the discussion about changing the flag of Mississippi is not merely a political issue,” Baptist leaders said in a statement. “… The racial overtones of the flag’s appearance make this discussion a moral issue. Since the principal teachings of Scripture are opposed to racism, a stand against such is a matter of biblical morality.”

The convention includes about 2,100 churches in Mississippi, and Baptists are the largest denomination in the state, with over 500,000 members. Leaders said their stance on the flag doesn’t represent every member church, but they believe it represents a majority and asked for “Mississippi Baptists to make this a matter of prayer and to seek the Lord’s guidance in standing for love instead of oppression, unity instead of division, and the gospel of Christ instead of the power of this world.”

The convention’s statement said: “Given the moral and spiritual nature of this issue, Mississippi Baptist leaders offer prayers for our state officials to have wisdom, courage and compassion to move forward. We encourage our governor and state Legislature to take the necessary steps to adopt a new flag for the state of Mississippi that represents the dignity of every Mississippian and promotes unity rather than division.”

The info is here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Cruel, Immoral Behavior Is Not Mental Illness

gun violence, mental disordersJames L. Knoll & Ronald W. Pies
Psychiatric Times
Originally posted August 19, 2019

Here is an excerpt:

Another way of posing the question is to ask—Does immoral, callous, cruel, and supremely selfish behaviors constitute a mental illness? These socially deviant traits appear in those with and without mental illness, and are widespread in the general population. Are there some perpetrators suffering from a genuine psychotic disorder who remain mentally organized enough to carry out these attacks? Of course, but they are a minority. To further complicate matters, psychotic individuals can also commit violent acts that were motivated by base emotions (resentment, selfishness, etc.), while their psychotic symptoms may be peripheral or merely coincidental.

It bears repeating that reliable, clinically-based data or complete psychological autopsies on perpetrators of mass public shootings are very difficult to obtain. That said, some of the best available research on mass public shooters indicates that they often display “rigidness, hostility, or extreme self-centeredness.” A recent FBI study found that only 25% of mass shooters had ever had a mental illness diagnosis, and only 3 of these individuals had a diagnosis of a psychotic disorder. The FBI’s cautionary statement in this report is incisive: “. . . formally diagnosed mental illness is not a very specific predictor of violence of any type, let alone targeted violence…. declarations that all active shooters must simply be mentally ill are misleading and unhelpful."

Psychiatric and mental health treatment has its limits, and is not traditionally designed to detect and uncover budding violent extremists. It is designed to work together with individuals who are invested in their own mental health and seek to increase their own degrees of freedom in life in a pro-social manner. This is why calls for more mental health laws or alterations in civil commitment laws are likely to be low-yield at best, with respect to preventing mass killing—and stagnating to mental health progress at worst.

The info is here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The arc of the moral universe won't bend on its own

Adam Fondren
Rapid City Journal
Originally posted August 11, 2019

Here are two excerpts:

My favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quote -- one of 14 engraved on a monument to his legacy in Washington, D.C. -- is, "We shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

I like that quote because I hope he was right. But do we have evidence to support that?

A man just drove for hours in order to kill people whose skin is a little darker and food a little spicier than his culture's. He opened fire in a mass shooting inspired by the words or politicians and pundits who stoke racist fears in order to win votes for their side. Calling groups of refugees invasions, infestations, or criminals and worrying about racial replacement are not the sentiments of a society whose moral arc is bending toward justice.


Racism isn't solved. White nationalists are not a hoax, and they are a big problem.

There are no spectators in this fight. You either condemn, condone or contribute to the problem.

Racism isn't a partisan issue. Both parties can come together to make these beliefs unacceptable in our society.

Another King quote from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail sums it up, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."

Rev. King was right about the moral arc of the universe bending toward justice, but it won't bend on its own. That's where we come in. We all have to do our part to make sure that our words and actions make racists uncomfortable.

The info is here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

How Trump’s Hateful Speech Raises the Risks of Violence

Cass Sunstein
Originally posted October 28, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Is President Donald Trump responsible, in some sense, for the mailing of bombs to Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders? Is he responsible, in some sense, for the slaughter at the Pittsburgh synagogue?

If we are speaking in terms of causation, the most reasonable answer to both questions, and the safest, is: We don’t really know. More specifically, we don’t know whether these particular crimes would have occurred in the absence of Trump’s hateful and vicious rhetoric (including his enthusiasm for the despicable cry, “Lock her up!”).

But it’s also safe, and plenty reasonable, to insist that across the American population, hateful and vicious rhetoric from the president of the United States is bound to increase risks of violence. Because of that rhetoric, the likelihood of this kind of violence is greater than it would otherwise be. The president is responsible for elevating the risk that people will try to kill Democrats and others seen by some of his followers as “enemies of the people” (including journalists and Jews).

To see why, we should investigate one of the most striking findings in modern social psychology that has been replicated on dozens of occasions. It goes by the name of “group polarization.”

The basic idea is that when people are listening and talking to one another, they tend to end up in a more extreme position in the same direction of the views with which they began. Groups of like-minded people can become radicalized.

The info is here.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

UNC protests present debate of law versus morality

Ali Akhyari
Charleston City Paper
Originally posted September 5, 2018

Here is an excerpt:

Immediately afterwards, UNC Chancellor Carol Folt referenced a 2015 law that protects historical monuments from being removed from any public property. Instead of making a public statement about the gross persistence of monuments to hate, she claimed her hands were tied and that students shouldn't break the law. Remember, after Charlottesville, it was president Trump who seemed incapable of acknowledging hate, saying there were "very fine people on both sides" after a woman was killed protesting the white supremacist march.

The debate regarding Confederate monuments and flags will never end so long as there are southerners more interested in rewriting history than admitting the Confederacy is intimately related to white supremacy. The true danger, though, is the normalization of white supremacy and nationalism in the Trump era. So it should follow, then, that Americans toppling monuments to oppression and hate will be increasingly forgivable as long as the the state and federal government coddles white nationalism.

Right after UNC, Trump tweeted a popular white nationalist talking point about land redistribution in post-Apartheid South Africa — a mirror of the battle minorities in this country have fought since emancipation.

So, I applaud the removal of Silent Sam. The monument fell at a time when the president has not only failed to recognize racism and historical oppression, instead encouraging it, pining for the return of Anglo-Saxon supremacy.

The info is here.

Friday, January 12, 2018

The Age of Outrage

Jonathan Haidt
Essay derived from a speech in City Journal
December 17, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

When we look back at the ways our ancestors lived, there’s no getting around it: we are tribal primates. We are exquisitely designed and adapted by evolution for life in small societies with intense, animistic religion and violent intergroup conflict over territory. We love tribal living so much that we invented sports, fraternities, street gangs, fan clubs, and tattoos. Tribalism is in our hearts and minds. We’ll never stamp it out entirely, but we can minimize its effects because we are a behaviorally flexible species. We can live in many different ways, from egalitarian hunter-gatherer groups of 50 individuals to feudal hierarchies binding together millions. And in the last two centuries, a lot of us have lived in large, multi-ethnic secular liberal democracies. So clearly that is possible. But how much margin of error do we have in such societies?

Here is the fine-tuned liberal democracy hypothesis: as tribal primates, human beings are unsuited for life in large, diverse secular democracies, unless you get certain settings finely adjusted to make possible the development of stable political life. This seems to be what the Founding Fathers believed. Jefferson, Madison, and the rest of those eighteenth-century deists clearly did think that designing a constitution was like designing a giant clock, a clock that might run forever if they chose the right springs and gears.

Thankfully, our Founders were good psychologists. They knew that we are not angels; they knew that we are tribal creatures. As Madison wrote in Federalist 10: “the latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man.” Our Founders were also good historians; they were well aware of Plato’s belief that democracy is the second worst form of government because it inevitably decays into tyranny. Madison wrote in Federalist 10 about pure or direct democracies, which he said are quickly consumed by the passions of the majority: “such democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention . . . and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

So what did the Founders do? They built in safeguards against runaway factionalism, such as the division of powers among the three branches, and an elaborate series of checks and balances. But they also knew that they had to train future generations of clock mechanics. They were creating a new kind of republic, which would demand far more maturity from its citizens than was needed in nations ruled by a king or other Leviathan.

The full speech is here.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Jared and Ivanka are failing a basic moral test

Lev Golinkin
Originally published August 20, 2017

Here is an excerpt:

But the silence emanating from Jared and Ivanka was exponentially more powerful than any I'd heard before. To me, as a Jew, seeing nothing but two tweets from Ivanka brought the kind of pain I'm sure is echoed by African-Americans anytime Ben Carson defends the President, and Asian-Americans in the wake of Elaine Chao's and Nikki Haley's equivocations: condemning hate in general terms while carefully avoiding criticizing the very administration they're part of.

No press conference was forthcoming, no rejection of Donald Trump's words; there was no statement from Jared about the horror his grandparents had survived; nothing from Ivanka, who had spoken about standing up for mothers on the campaign trail, about defending today's Jewish children -- her children; indeed all children -- from intimidation and violence. There was nothing, but the sound of steady clicking on Ivanka's electronic device as she wrote two tweets.

It was like listening to the fabric of Judaism tear at itself.

Beneath Jewish rituals, customs and rules lies a simple and sacred idea: preserving the sanctity of life. It's why the ill are absolved from fasting on days of penance. It's why the no-electricity, no-work rules of Shabbat go out the window the moment a life-threatening emergency hits. In fact, it's considered a grave sin to put someone at risk by blindly keeping the Sabbath, for it places righteousness above humanity. This ethical focus on preserving life is the substrate of Judaism, first, last and always.

The opinion piece is here.