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Ghina Zand Alhadid

Student of Biochemistry, molecular biology and psychology, Participatory Culture Foundation

TEDCRED 30+

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Do you think that immorality is more supported by people?

Almost all of us can tell what's right and what's wrong. And many of us try to stay away from what we believe is wrong. But when it comes to reinforcing others actions by admiration, I see that immoral actions and figures seem to be more supported than the moral ones.

Do you see the same?

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    Dec 20 2012: "Do you think that immorality is more supported by people?"

    The reason we have wars over resources, 3 billion people in poverty, crime and violence and human suffering due to that is because of ignorance, not 'evil people'. The reason some people "choose" what you call immorality over morality is not because they are naturally bad or wrong or evil. It's because they're either brought up to believe that which seems immoral to you or simply conditioned to react in certain behavioral patterns in order to survive.

    You say "Almost all of us can tell what's right and what's wrong.". That's wrong. The truth is the exact opposite. We are all brought up to believe whatever the culture reinforces upon us. We are all victims of culture. Mirrors of our environment. The brain doesn't decipher between good and bad values, actions and behaviors. Therefore, one can never talk about human nature without consulting the environment.

    If you brought up a nice Jewish boy in a Hitler Youth camp and he saw nothing else, he would become Nazi. And if his brain had better tissue and receptors than the rest of his group, he would become a Nazi faster than the others. That's why if you bring up a Chinese boy in Oxford, England he will have an Oxford accent and walk and behave as any other Englishman. That's why if you travel to Amazon and ask a little Amazonian headhunter boy if he don't feel sorry for having five shrunken heads on a stick, he would respond: "Yes, my brother has twenty". So, is he a bad and unnormal human being? No, it's normal to think and act like that in that type of environment. Same goes for any type of environment people are brought up in or inhabit.
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    Dec 19 2012: Thank you for your great contributions.

    You are right, the term "immoral" can be ambiguous and I should have specified it. What I meant by an immoral action is that one which results in the harm of others. I do realize that this definition resembles that of violence, but I found it appropriate to define immorality with its results to find common ground here.

    So as an answer to Cliff Nzombato, yes, there is a victim in any immoral act, many victims sometimes!

    And I agree, we cannot classify actions to right or wrong/ white or black, but I believe we can after considering the circumstances, motives and standards in a certain region. That is why I used the word morality and I hypothesized that we all were born with an instinct which guides us to avoid what hurts others, unconditionally.

    I am not talking about personal freedom here, not talking about homosexuality, drinking, gambling, eating pork, driving... etc. I am talking about misleading, greed, pointless revenge, causing others misery, even murder, in the name of pride or self-actualization, extravagance with the earth's resources, cheating... etc. Just as what Robert Winner stated in his comment.

    Implicit examples do exist, like those celebrties who promote products (e.g. foods) that cause serious health problems, or those who make people believe that our value resides in what we OWN, or those politicians who set borders between nations and make it legitimize to kill and attack in the name of defense, turning people against each other, and making them actually fall for such lies. Also, in my opinion, the lack of action is considered an immorality especially when one can make a change. Like many of us CAN prevent many people from being hurt but we still prefer to look after ourselves, and ourselves only.

    Jerry Yang has pointed out a decent explanation. I think we have been numbed to accept seeing damage being done and still not do a thing about it. Aren't the majority allowing this to happen?
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    Dec 19 2012: With the advent of popular culture, there has been a mass desensitization of many topics. These days, children are able to watch violent videos and access information that they shouldn't have access to. It's not the fact that immorality is supported more by people; we still praise good deeds and actions. It's the fact that over time, as technology has increased connectivity and the mass distribution of informatiom, people have become desensitized, and as a result, we are doing actions that would have been considered immoral about a decade or two ago.
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      Dec 19 2012: Jerry is it possible to suggest just maybe that the actions your were refering to were never immoral in the first place "a decade or two ago"?
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        Dec 19 2012: Discussing what happens in the bedroom in public used to be taboo. Now, people make nasty comments all over the 'Net about who's going out with whom. You're right, perhaps not "a decade or two ago"; perhaps even sooner.
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    Dec 19 2012: It only seems like immorality has more supporters, but in fact morality does. For every strip club, casino or any place that may be considered immoral there are ten churches, temples, YMCAs, food banks, homeless shelters, etc.
    Hollywood and its friend politics is why it seems immorality is in the majority, the reality they are just more vocal.

    Life is a game (created by God for us) and what fun is a game without bad guys to smash and puzzles to solve?
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      Dec 19 2012: The "game" comment suggests that "smashing bad guys" contributes to success and happiness. Are we to develop a society that attempts to eradicate the "bad guys" to and have a society with just "good guys"? Remember that morality is subjective to a certain degree.
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        Dec 19 2012: Jerry: "Remember that morality is subjective to a certain degree."

        And there is the Puzzle :) Boy this game is fun!

        P.S. to clarify what I mean by smash, I’ll state some of the weapon options; kindness, charity, forgiveness, education, etc. plus not all bad guy are external.
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    Gail . 50+

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    Dec 19 2012: I can agree in a round about way, but not in the way that your question inferred. If you would drop the word "moral" from your question, I could answer. But as soon as you add the word "moral", you set up a road block that makes answering difficult at best.

    I live in the US. Here, people have a tendency to revere leaders - be they political or religious. Most of these leaders are immoral to one degree or another, because when one assumes a position of leadership over others, one must be immoral. There is no other way. To assume a leadership role (exert control over others' minds), one has to convince the followers to be sheeple and give up responsibility for their own lives/decisions. This is, in MY book, immoral abuse. But when a culture (that defines morality) decides that it is a good thing to revere such leadership, then the immoral abuse is supported by that culture.

    So in this context, yes I see that immoral actions seem to be more supported than moral ones because. If it were not so, then our "leaders" would listen and offer rational and TRUTHFUL explanations after questions, and not put their own agendas ahead of the sheeple they themselves make to feel inferior and inadequate.
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    Dec 19 2012: Ghina, It is some times easier to answer if you provide a bio. The philosophy of morality is ethics. A moral code is a system of morality (according to a particular philosophy, religion, culture, etc.) I would guess that you are very conservative. Most of what we believe is derived by our culture. As you may have guess by the replies most of TED members are very liberal and many athiests. Within our culture we have had it defined to us what is good and what is bad. As we venture out into the world we find that not all people hold these same values. Even within my area as I do not fit the norm as I am married and faithful, do not drink, and hold religious values.

    I do see what you mean though. I would have thought that the people would have ran Bill Clinton out of office for his many affairs ... his popularity among democrats increased. JFK same thing. FDR same thing. In our sports heros and politicians cheating, lying, stealing, drunkiness, unfaithfulness, and all the things we were taught were "bad" have become acceptable.

    My suggestion is that we live our lives as an example to others and "choose the right" in our dealing with others. The one person that you must answer to is in the mirror every morning. The sign over my door for my children and all the family to serve as a guide reads simple "RETURN WITH HONOR".

    I wish you well. Bob.
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      Dec 20 2012: Thank you,

      And I have updated my profile!
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        Dec 20 2012: It was my pleasure .... Your bio was a kind act that will allow us to answer in a more direct and applicable manner .... therefore .... thank you.

        Bob.
  • Dec 19 2012: "Do you see the same?"

    I don't, you have to understand the difference between true admiration of something and finding entertainment in a fictional depiction of something, you are also substituting other people's value systems with yours, which you can't just do, see, by your Arabic name I can deduce that you are probably socially conservative and so may find some things wrong that other people (such as myself) don't find wrong.
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      Dec 19 2012: I like how you drew a line between admiration and finding entertainment. Isn't it hard to differentiate though? And does not being amused by some action results in the promotion of this action as well?
      • Dec 19 2012: I don't think it's hard to differentiate between the two. Just watch "All Quiet On The Western Front" and you'll see that you can like a depiction of violence, but that it actually makes you hate real life violence more than you did before. But even if you are truly entertained by a violent film you would probably still be shocked if it happened in real life and you would oppose it. It's true that some people (often only when they're young) will find inspiration in violent media, but that says more about these people than about the violent media.
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    Dec 17 2012: I suggest we don't agree 100% on what is right or wrong.

    Most of us might agree on some issues, but disagree on others.

    For example opinions are split on whether homosexuality is immoral or not. Whether woman should be allowed to drive a car. Whether parents can decide to mutilate their children's genitals for religious reasons. Or whether we eat pork.

    Could you give some examples of admiration for immoral acts?

    I'm not sure if you are referring to voyerism, people enjoying reading about people doing bad things, or actually supporting people who do bad things. If the latter then perhaps to some, the bad things are not bad. I applaud the women in Saudi protesting by driving cars. I support gay rights advocates. I don't see them ass immoral.
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      Dec 19 2012: Obey, I agree with your narrative of explaining specific positions and matters within their context in the way and manner each behavior affect our social dynamics with one another; which, of cause its relevant to how we see our world or the lens with which we view our world. I think in the issue of morality we should give all attention and show respect to every side in matters of faith, believe or of personal narrative, knowing that every one some measure passion to their values in relate to their presumable influence in society.
      I think we may strongly disagree with our opponent on a variety of subjects on social issues but we should not make light, dismissed them or make a caricature of their position in any debate, because our behaviors are intrinsic and they are here to stay. The difference between a Patriot and a Rebel is “power”, the more we understand difference we would see similarities, and the closer we can get to peaceful co-existence is in a pluralistic society. Good job, Obey.
  • Dec 16 2012: Immorality is easy than intergrity and exemplary moral character.
    Immorality has little or no rules, anything goes.
    People are more comfortable with some manifestation of immorality than others. For example, a Hip-hop star who calls his girlfriend or wife a 'bitch' or a 'ho', could get applause or even admiration and sell more records.
    A lying political leader or a dictator are not any better than the hip hop star in my example. They are both immoral in their sphere of influence.
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      Dec 19 2012: Feyisayo, I some what agree with in principles but strongly disagree with you in practice about your extrapolating notion of morality: why and who determined that these leaders, dictators and hip hop stars are immoral "in their sphere of influence" in first place?
  • Dec 16 2012: I disagree with part of what you say.
    I don't think most people can tell what is right or wrong.
    That would mean that most are insane because that is what insanity is. Not knowing the difference between right and wrong, good or bad or true and false.

    Yet most do try, it seems to me, to live their lives by what they believe are the rules of right and wrong.
    The problem is that the rules of what is right and what is wrong, are themselves wrong.

    Thus, most are insane because they don't know difference between right and wrong. They think they do.
    And they can't or do not, recognize their insanity because everyone around them is insane too. Believes the same BS.
    Many times people are accepted, even admired, when they are true to themselves, especially when and if they go against the commonly accepted morality of their community, culture or country.
    Sometimes they pay a heavy price for this, "to thine own self be true."

    I don't think most support what one might call "immorality" but rather people sense and even know that what they've been taught or coerced into believing or doing, is really wrong, so they rebel, and it helps when they have support from others.

    Most don't know what is wrong. They only believe what others have told them without thinking too deeply or looking to closely at the belief. Sounds good, must be right.

    I think many are mental robots.They have been rendered Artificially Intelligent. The real problem is that they have done so willingly.
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      Dec 20 2012: I like your comment. I guess rights or wrongs changes depending on people and condition. Human nature includes good and bad sides, so it is impossible to avoid bad but take it under control. And during a situation, one needs conscience to decide which act is good or bad. And conscience comes with education, deep thinking and objective learning (which grow recently through internet and self-education). As you said, one needs courage to do the good, even if it requires heavy price. But if someone could reach the level of such conscience, then I guess he could have the courage to do it.
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    Dec 26 2012: well, i think it all depends on everyone's definition of immorality , some people would think of a particular behavior as immoral whereas that behavior can be thought of as moral by other people , everyone sees things from different perspective that's the reason of all the argument ..
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      Dec 29 2012: That is true. Makes me wonder what immorality even means anymore. From the looks of it, what's good is bad and what's bad is good nowadays... It's such a shame.
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    Dec 21 2012: I agree that immorality is supported more in our society. Our society has changed so much over time that what was once immoral is just common everyday practices that we are encouraged to support. Immoral acts are literally all over the place. Making it easy for them to subtly make their way into our lives. For people who don't strive to cut these things out of their lives, they just become even more desensitized to them. Now, (just as Mats Kaarbo commented), not everyone can determine right from wrong... Unfortunately.
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    Dec 20 2012: I want to take you attention to a different point of view about these strange immoral acts and admiration to them. Maybe most people don’t ever think about it, but oppression is an effective indoctrination method. People don’t like being oppressed and have an intention to do the opposite. And it has a great cover such as “freedom of choice” or “freewill”. As a result, many people do immoral (or wrong or whatever you want to call) things in the name of feeling so-called freedom and thought that this is their choice. Family pressure, school pressure, work pressure, fears about future (we can increase these examples), but most important of all guided pressure by some societies and some so-called religious people, lead people to rebellion and immoral acts and this can be an expression of flight from reality. And this may cause the insanity and suicides because actually this is not the nature of human. Human are suitable for living clean, safe and happy. People like being supported by other and doing good things.
    What can be done for the solution? One should look inside him and decide with deep thinking. Ignorance may cause quick and destructive affect but if the education system improves into awaking the inner dynamics of people, than this may be a good starting point.
    You can check the TED talk of Mr. Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation, it is really inspiring.
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    Dec 20 2012: Today I was reading an article by Michael Shermer, tiled "How Communities Shape Our Morals" published by Scientific American Magazine. In this article the writer points out the effect of peer pressure and group mentality on ones decisions.

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-communities-shape-our-morals

    I think we all have experienced doing things that we don't normally do (or not doing things that we would usually do) just to feel coherent with the surrounding attitudes. And I just find it fascinating how the pressure is so overwhelming that it blocks us from acting upon our own beliefs.

    Any thoughts regarding minimizing this peer pressure effect?
  • Dec 20 2012: A man with no money,when he is hungry enough, will go into a store and steal something to eat. Is he acting immorally or out of necessity. He knows right from wrong but is stimulated by hunger to act against what he knows is right. Unfortunately, people act the same when it comes to money and power. Even small bits of them will cause someone to act wrongly. Have you ever been "power played?" If people don't change, I fear the worst for mankind.
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      Dec 20 2012: So your saying that its the need what's making people ignore morality. It does make sense, especially when looking at what's going on in the regions that suffer from poverty.
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    Dec 19 2012: Can you provide evidence that what we know as "morals" exists beyond the framework of a belief system?
    Here I am implying that most of what we call morals are merely an acquired belief in what is right or wrong.
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      Dec 20 2012: I think I do. The moral system does exist in animals behavior, so saying that morality is just that sum of beliefs of what's right or what's wrong suggests that some animals have got a beliefs system as well. Could animals possess such a cognitive ability?
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    Dec 19 2012: I think we can just summarize here and say we all want to protect our entire species. That's weird. No other animal on earth could give a rats .... about the earth. We seem very fond of her.

    I think we all live on a similar wavelength. I think its possible to get closer to eachother on this wavelength. I really do believe that is what we are moving towards.

    I realize some of you don't agree with gay marriage...and the day it impacts your life I say take a stand...but we can all agree that for some reason...we are moving towards equality for everybody.

    Little people on TV, immigrants on TV....I mean some of this sounds like nothing now...but if you would have told somebody living 150 years ago that Obama would be president in 2012 I am pretty sure you would be laughed at.

    I think its all about balance...and educating yourself.

    Let me give you an example.

    Prisons started as horribly run profit based establishments. We have grown since then...to understand the criminal mind...and attribute behaviors to more than "evil".

    So we are finding out that these people need help...not punches in the face. Therefore, all those years we assumed people were just "evil" making these choices because they wanted to.....well we were wrong.

    As we learn more about the human mind and how it works...I believe we will better understand morality and "bad choices". I think we need to understand that people make choices as the consequence of their perceptions not Satan.

    People are becoming much better. If you think we are getting worse...you just haven't educated yourself enough on history.
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      Dec 20 2012: I have not stated that immorality is more dominant in TODAY'S world. It is just a a some sort of tendency to believe that the past was better than the present for some reason.
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    Dec 19 2012: Every society glorifies immorality. Think back through history and there are few times if any that morality is commended. There is always that thought in my head that says, when you are doing everything right no one notices, but mess up once and you'll pay for it for the rest of your life. One bad choice, one immoral act, one life choice that doesn't agree with what is commonly good or bad. People often believe the reputation before they believe the truth.

    The media that gets the attention is negative, that's what sells. That is what makes the game players more money.
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    Dec 19 2012: Actually, society does glorify immorality.
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    Dec 19 2012: Ghina, is there a victem in any immoral act? Your thoughts
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      Dec 19 2012: The victim is the person performing the act. Even if you commit the crime you are just as much of a victim as the actual person who was hurt. You have to live with it, you have to look yourself in the mirror everyday, unless you have a mental disorder you are just as much the victim as "the victim."

      I think the old addage "harm none" is important here, because none includes yourself.
  • Dec 17 2012: Depends on the group paradigm within an accepted frame of reference.
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    Dec 16 2012: It probably isn't my experience. What specific immoral figures are you thinking of who you think receive a lot of admiration?
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    Dec 16 2012: It's implied as Morality and Immorality is a human consturct.

    "Right" "Wrong" are not absolute but relative......