Saturday, July 29, 2006

The ‘Just World’ Fallacy

I've just now come across the name for a particularly insidious little brain parisite that causes the most frustrating logical hoop-jumping among people in order to justify their lack of concern for others, the Just World Phenomenon. From WikiPedia:

The just-world phenomenon, also called the just-world effect or just-world hypothesis, refers to the tendency for people to believe the world is "just" and so therefore people "get what they deserve."

One study gave women what appeared to be painful electric shocks while working on a difficult memory problem. Those who observed the experiment appeared to blame the victim for her fate, praised the experiment, and rated her as being less physically attractive than those who had seen her but not the experiment.

In another study, subjects were told two versions of a story about an interaction between a woman and a man. Both variations were exactly the same, except at the very end the man raped the woman in one and in the other he proposed marriage. In both conditions, subjects viewed the woman's (identical) actions as inevitably leading to the (very different) results.

Studies have shown that those who believe in a "just world" may be more likely to believe that rape victims must have behaved seductively, battered wives must have deserved their beatings, that sick people must have caused their own illness, or that the poor deserve their lot.

In this way, if something good (like a job promotion) or bad (like an injury) occurs, people attribute the occurrence to the person, not to a chance turn of events. For example, some people feel that those living on the street are homeless because they are too lazy to find a job, rather than considering alternatives such as bad luck or mental illness. Likewise, if someone invests well and is rewarded by it, most people believe that the person is smart and a good investor, instead of it being chance.

Closely related cognitive biases include hindsight bias, the illusion of control, the halo effect, self-serving bias and the fundamental attribution error. The effect could also be explained in terms of cognitive dissonance theory.

God, Karma, The Universe, The Invisible Hand, all of these are names for that little deception we commit against ourselves, that things happen for a reason and that there's no point getting worked up over it, and that we are being good people if we don't make waves and go about our own business and try not to do anything wrong ourselves.

Blaming the victim is pretty obvious and noticeable when people do it nowadays, and it usually gets called out &emdash; at least in the case of violence against women, though the tendency hasn't gone away by any stretch.

The wider phenomenon remains, unfortunately, and you have to wonder how people would cope if that little safety net separating them from the rest of humanity were taken away. If people actually took to heart the phrase "whatever you do to the least of My brothers, that you do unto Me."

To be happy in one's own self, to accept one's self and be content, to notbe caught up in desires and attachments, along with a refusal to sit by while injustices happen in the world, is the most dangerous combination to those who live off of injustice.

By al - 12:17 p.m. |

I don't believe in the "just world" experience at all.

Take Steve for example...he's 24 and he's a really good guy...he definitely doesn't deserve to be in a coma.

Some of the people I talk to however, definitely deserve to have broken phones and disclaimed insurance claims.
From my own experience circumstance has nothing to do with Justis or karma.. it's just circumstance.

Your karma on the other hand might have the power to steer an outcome.

Ehh.. but who realy knows anything... lol
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