In January of 2021, AIER Authors Corner host Ethan Yang interviewed Dr. Maja Graso, a senior lecturer at the University of Otago, one of New Zealand’s top universities. Dr. Graso was the lead researcher on a study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Physiology. The study was titled, “Moralization of Covid-19 health response: Asymmetry in tolerance for human costs” which outlined how people’s perceptions of Covid-19 could alter their ability to make an objective cost-benefit analysis. A summary published by AIER can be found here. The study demonstrated that Covid-19 has been turned into a moral issue rather than a policy issue, which brings a level of vitriol and passion that is atypical for most issues in society that have not been moralized.
Article by Ethan Yang from AIER.
In the interview, Ethan and Dr. Graso discuss why the topic of moralization is worth studying, examples of moralized behavior regarding Covid-19, the results of the study, what it means to have asymmetric tolerances for human cost, and viewing moralization in the context of history.
For example, when discussing transportation policy, something that is not usually viewed through a moral lens, people would be concerned about the most cost-effective and efficient way of getting everyone from point A to point B. All proposals would likely be weighed with a steady hand and an open mind.
An example of a moral issue would be slavery. In a conversation about slavery, people would not be interested in cost-benefit analysis and discussion. Slavery would and should be condemned without any further consideration. The proposal that recommends slavery should on its face be viewed as flawed and society should do its best to be as anti-slavery as possible without any consideration for its benefits.
The results of the study are unsurprising, especially if you simply pay attention to the way people act in regards to Covid-19 and lockdowns. Questioning lockdowns, masks, and the public health experts in power, no matter how reasonable, is frowned upon. Despite all the obvious damage to society that the past year has brought, questioning many of the prevailing narratives is often met with hostility. This looks nothing like a reasonable cost-benefit analysis and more like a religion where merit is received by showing one’s unwavering devotion. In this case, that would be a commitment to sacrificing basic societal functions and reason in exchange for some abstract feeling of morality.
One part of the study had subjects react to a series of hypothetical situations such as the public shaming of a health expert. The study found that subjects viewed attacks on the health expert to be more civil if the expert was advocating against lockdowns than if the expert was pro-lockdown.
The second part of the study had subjects rate the quality and accuracy of hypothetical studies that were virtually identical in structure except they reached different conclusions on lockdowns. Despite the studies being similar in structure and intentionally crafted to be of equal quality, people tended to view the studies that questioned lockdowns lower on all factors. The study further disaggregates answers by Liberal and Conservative political affiliation. Liberals tended to favor the lockdown study while Conservatives favored the anti-lockdown study. However, the study found that the Liberals exhibited far more extreme biases towards the pro-lockdown study whereas the Conservatives tended to view both studies as equal quality with only a slight inclination towards the anti-lockdown studies as higher quality. To reiterate, both studies were of equal quality and structure.
The moralization of Covid-19 is a long-established phenomenon, and at this point, there is no hope in turning back the clock. It is why it seems to be perfectly acceptable for people to yell at one another on the street, support censorship of dissent, and engage in vitriolic slander in the media. The researchers themselves take no stance on whether moralization is a bad or good thing; they simply wish to point out that it has happened and there are consequences. With this in mind and with the carnage of 2020 hopefully behind us, Dr. Graso’s research should be useful not as a tool to support a particular viewpoint but as a critical insight on why history played out the way it did. In fact, it would likely be impossible to explain our behavior as a society without considering the impact of moralization.
‘The Purge’ by Big Tech targets conservatives, including us
Just when we thought the Covid-19 lockdowns were ending and our ability to stay afloat was improving, censorship reared its ugly head.
For the last few months, NOQ Report, Conservative Playbook, and the American Conservative Movement have appealed to our readers for assistance in staying afloat through Covid-19 lockdowns. The downturn in the economy has limited our ability to generate proper ad revenue just as our traffic was skyrocketing. We had our first sustained stretch of three months with over a million visitors in November, December, and January, but February saw a dip.
It wasn’t just the shortened month. We expected that. We also expected the continuation of dropping traffic from “woke” Big Tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter, but it has actually been much worse than anticipated. Our Twitter account was banned. Both of our YouTube accounts were banned. Facebook “fact-checks” everything we post. Spotify canceled us. Medium canceled us. Apple canceled us. Why? Because we believe in the truth prevailing, and that means we will continue to discuss “taboo” topics.
The 2020 presidential election was stolen. You can’t say that on Big Tech platforms without risking cancellation, but we’d rather get cancelled for telling the truth rather than staying around to repeat mainstream media’s lies. They have been covering it up since before the election and they’ve convinced the vast majority of conservative news outlets that they will be harmed if they continue to discuss voter fraud. We refuse to back down. The truth is the truth.
The lies associated with Covid-19 are only slightly more prevalent than the suppression of valid scientific information that runs counter to the prescribed narrative. We should be allowed to ask questions about the vaccines, for example, as there is ample evidence for concern. One does not have to be an “anti-vaxxer” in order to want answers about vaccines that are still considered experimental and that have a track record in a short period of time of having side-effects, including death. One of our stories about the Johnson & Johnson “vaccine” causing blood clots was “fact-checked” and removed one day before the government hit the brakes on it. These questions and news items are not allowed on Big Tech which is just another reason we are getting canceled.
There are more topics that they refuse to allow. In turn, we refuse to stop discussing them. This is why we desperately need your help. The best way NOQ, CP, and ACM readers can help is to donate. Our Giving Fuel page makes it easy to donate one-time or monthly. Alternatively, you can donate through PayPal as well. We are pacing to be short by about $3700 per month in order to maintain operations.
The second way to help is to become a partner. We’ve strongly considered seeking angel investors in the past but because we were paying the bills, it didn’t seem necessary. Now, we’re struggling to pay the bills. We had 5,657,724 sessions on our website from November, 2020, through February, 2021. Our intention is to elevate that to higher levels this year by focusing on a strategy that relies on free speech rather than being beholden to progressive Big Tech companies.
During that four-month stretch, Twitter and Facebook accounted for about 20% of our traffic. We are actively working on operating as if that traffic is zero, replacing it with platforms that operate more freely such as Gab, Parler, and others. While we were never as dependent on Big Tech as most conservative sites, we’d like to be completely free from them. That doesn’t mean we will block them, but we refuse to be beholden to companies that absolutely despise us simply because of our political ideology.
We’re heading in the right direction and we believe we’re ready talk to patriotic investors who want to not only “get in on the action” but more importantly who want to help America hear the truth. Interested investors should contact me directly with the contact button above.
As the world spirals towards radical progressivism, the need for truthful journalism has never been greater. But in these times, we need as many conservative media voices as possible. Please help keep NOQ Report going.