I’m a big fan of 60 Minutes, the torch-bearer for the hour long news magazines on network channels. Yes, the reporters have been older than dirt for a long time, but they command enough respect to not have to pander to their subjects to keep up with the ratings market, and they have the guts and hard-earned cache to ask the tough questions without looking like someone out to manufacture scandals. While the features are not as “hard-hitting” as they once used to be (RIP Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace), they still grab your attention and provide something new and different that is credible and hard to find elsewhere.
A recent feature that caught my attention was a report on the continued findings from The Infant Cognition Center at Yale University trying to shed light on the origins of morality in us. The question at hand is nothing new – it is an age old argument of nature vs nurture – whether children are born with a blank slate and their eventual moral characteristics cultivated by our society and their interactions with it, or are they all born with an inherent moral code that might set the foundation for their moral compass as adults?
The findings from this “Baby Lab” are somewhat revealing in the sense that when it comes to our morality, they debunk John Locke’s Tabula rasa Theory on human mind. The blank slate doesn’t exist. Just because they look cute, can’t speak and can’t ask for help, it doesn’t mean they don’t come with a predisposed sense of morality (as revealed by the excellent puppet show experiments). Most interesting in these conclusions is their sense of fairness, justice, punishment, and an inherent bigotry. Also, before we automatically blame society for converting some of these innocuous looking angels into demons to account for all the evil in the world, look at the result of some of these experiments with 8-12 year olds, displaying a new sense of benevolence and selflessness, cultivated as it may. We may not be born angels like all parents with infants might want to believe, but thank God for society to temper your ruthless predisposed nature to divide and hate, and alter your moral compass to somewhat mollify the prejudice and intolerance that might be inherently you when you are born.
On a side note, maybe this will convince people to drop the pretentious reverence to infants, the little rascals that they are. We all know its a ruse invented by parents to force those without kids to acknowledge their precious treasure of reproduction, as if paying extra taxes that go to their wonderful upbringing to right their wrongs is not enough.