I'm not judgmental when it comes to other people's lifestyle choices and I've always wondered if that is learned or natural behavior.

I saw a segment on 60 Minutes recently in which researchers purported to discover some sort of gene-based morality in babies, as well as a preference for people like themselves. That makes sense from a survival standpoint. I assume I have as much gene-based bias as any other human. But for some reason it doesn't translate into being judgmental about people in my everyday life. I'm hoping this is an example of mind over genes, but I have no way of knowing for sure.

What I do know is that over the years I have developed a worldview that makes the idea of being judgmental feel nonsensical. Here are the pillars of my worldview, some of which you already know from earlier posts.

1.     Willpower isn't a real thing. Some people just have greater urges than others. If I resist a cookie and you don't, it doesn't say anything about your willpower, but it might say you are hungrier than I am, or you simply like cookies more than I do.

2.     I don't believe in a creator. I see humans as a collection of particles bumping into each other. Or maybe we're a computer simulation created by some earlier civilization. In either case, no group of particles, or arrangement of ones and zeroes, is superior to another.

3.     I have no individual skill that is not topped by at least one person in every demographic group. Every group has people who are smarter than me, stronger than me, kinder than me, more generous than me, more talented, and so on.

4.     There is no logical way to rank talents or virtues. Is one person's excellent musical skill somehow better than another's good parenting skills? Is your kindness better than your friend's work ethic? None of these things can be compared objectively.

5.     Genes are often destiny. You were probably born with your personality and your preferences, in which case you are not to blame. Or you might have been the victim of some sort of nastiness in your past that changed you permanently, and that probably wasn't your "fault" in any objective way either. Your particles bumped around until something bad happened, nothing more.

6.     For purely practical reasons, the legal system assigns "fault" to some actions and excuses others. We don't have a good alternative to that system. But since we are all a bunch of particles bumping around according to the laws of physics (or perhaps the laws of our programmers) there is no sense of "fault" that is natural to the universe.

I'm avoiding the term "free will" here because experience shows that using that term turns into a debate about the definition. I prefer to say we're all just particles bumping around. Personally, I don't see how any of those particles, no matter how they are arranged, can sometimes choose to ignore the laws of physics and go their own way.

I'm curious about the rest of you. Are you judgy? And if so, do you think it is learned or genetic?

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Sep 18, 2013
When you make the mental leap to truly believe there is no creator, you break down prejudices about the way things "should be." There is no one way things should be - things just are the way they are. You can't violate the "natural order of things" because there is no guidelines about what is natural and not natural. That doesn't mean you lose your own preferences or your own morality, but it limits the judgments you put on others.

My question is why does it limit them rather than simply abolish them? You may not care if your neighbor is gay or straight, catholic or muslim, but you probably do care and impose judgments on rapists, murderers, and thieves. The big difference between the first list and the second list is whether a person is harming someone else.

Why does that matter? It does matter, to me, but I have a hard time articulating the rationale for that in a way that doesn't also provide rationale for not judging people by, for instance, their preference for bland foods over spicy foods.

Can you explain it?
Sep 12, 2013
Human behavior is a product of nature and nurture.

From one moist robot to another, there is no free will. There is no choice in your choice.
Sep 9, 2013
Yep, I'm judgy - not so much about personal things like religion, sexual preference, or style, but definitely about violence and destruction. I suspect my beliefs are both biological and learned.

For example, there have been cases of men in Africa raping babies because they think sex with a virgin will prevent or cure AIDS. I don't judge them because they were ignorant enough to believe this - I judge them because they decided their own well being was more important than that of an innocent child.

And like most of the world, I judge the Syrian government as immoral for gassing their citizens. The question isn't if that was wrong, it's how to respond. It's coming up with appropriate penalties AFTER we judge someone that requires great wisdom. I don't envy world leaders when it comes to these choices.
Sep 9, 2013
Not to be judgy or anything, but the opening of this posting seems to be a bit hypocritical. Scott isn't judgy, but he seems to suggest that his humble world-view is superior in a second-best sort of way.
Sep 9, 2013
I wasn't judgy when I was young. In fact, even into my early adulthood, I buried the needle in the "perceiving" category on Myers Briggs tests -- the opposite of "judging" according to their theory.

I started getting pretty judgy around 30 years old, though. I think it's when I started to be aware of the ideologies behind punitive taxes for successful members of society. Once I realized that my success was intentionally being hindered for the failure of others, I started down a dark road.
Sep 9, 2013

Fascinating article, cheers for posting that.
“Even the wisest people won’t make good choices when they’re not rested and their glucose is low,” Baumeister points out. That’s why the truly wise don’t restructure the company at 4 p.m. They don’t make major commitments during the !$%*!$%* hour. And if a decision must be made late in the day, they know not to do it on an empty stomach. “The best decision makers,” Baumeister says, “are the ones who know when not to trust themselves.”

Next time I'm buying a car I'm deffo stuffing myself first!
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Sep 9, 2013
I would say I'm not that judgemental about other people's lifestyles or choices, but that doesn't mean much - everyone thinks that.

And yes - it is probably genetic AND memetic (you should really read Susan Blackmore's "The Meme Machine") from what I can gather from people I interact with.
Sep 8, 2013
Re: daffyd's reference on willpower - this article talks a little more about the research in the book: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html

In short, willpower does seem to exist, and it seems to be a glucose-dependent. It's been tested in both humans and animals (e.g., dogs with self-control tests, or dogs choosing to respond to a turf challenge), and it's been tested against controls with artificial sweeteners as well against controls where both the test and the control taste bland, with one of them having actual glucose.

Odd as it may be, willpower seems to exist!
Sep 8, 2013
All of these things except one make you appear non-judgy. Number two, however, sounds like a judgement against people who believe in a creator. Clearly, they are judgier in your opinion. I think what you meant to say is that you don't consider yourself part of some group of chosen people, or a master race of genetically superior folk.
Sep 8, 2013
Big Scott fan, but this is the dumbest article I've seen in a long time.

Judging begins with judging different foods when we are born. It continues throughout life. It's basic usefulness to the individual and the species is pretty obvious. So yes, it's genetic.

Yes we are made of particles, and the human mind is so complex, the "just particles" truth is hard to reconcile in lots of ways. But to deny morality and the concept of "better/worse" is un-useful and just nuts.
Sep 7, 2013
Since there is no such word as 'judgy,' I will substitute the real word 'judgmental.' I prefer to deal with real terms in order to ensure that we're all talking about the same thing.

The word 'judgemental' has the following meaning: "inclined to make judgments, especially moral or personal ones."

OK, so what's the definition of 'judgment?' "The formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation."

So, OK, now that we all know what we're talking about, we can answer the question.

Sure, I'm judgmental. So are you. So is everyone. You use judgment every day in almost every situation in which you have a choice. Ta-daa!

But there's a larger point here, to which you address in passing, but which I find very telling.
Your point number two is, IMHO, the most illustrative of your internal struggle to understand your existence. Let us deconstruct that point:

a. you don't believe in a creator.
b. you believe that our existence may be a computer program created by "some earlier civilization."
c. belief 'a' directly contradicts belief 'b.'

It may be that your non-judgmentalism stems from an inability to figure out just what your core beliefs are. You appear to be a prime example of G. K. Chesterson's observation: "When people stop believing in God, they don't believe in nothing -- they believe in everything."

You seem to be trying extremely hard to believe in nothing; that we're just 'particles bumping into each other.' But you're failing. Something keeps creeping back into your oft-stated extreme nihilism that gives me a slight glimmer of hope. Hope that you may abandon your nothingness and embrace existence.

Or at least, I do hope that you will quit trying so hard to convince us otherwise.
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Sep 7, 2013
To answer your question, yes, I am judgy, in sense ypu seem to be using this word. But I see this as a fault and I'm trying to correct it. With partial but (slowly) growing success.

Other than that I concur with gilknut.
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Sep 6, 2013
Scott, you just listed my entire worldview point for point. Couldn't agree more.

+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 6, 2013
There was a time in my life long ago that I believed if I worked to try to understand why people are motivated to act and think the way they do that I would be less judgmental and the world would make better sense overall. Now that I have a much more comprehensive understanding of human behavior I have become very detached from society and a nonparticipant in the community. I've resigned myself that I live in a world where madness pretty much rules. I no longer care why someone does or thinks that way they do, I only care that they leave me alone to the greatest extent possible. It no longer matters if there are flaws in my thinking and conclusions. At this point my best option seems to be to live as a dispassionate observer of the human drama, and consider it all primarily entertainment. However everyone else chooses to interpret the world around them is none of my concern or business.
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Sep 6, 2013
Re: Willpower - read this article (and the book if you want). You might need to change your worldview.

Sep 6, 2013
Seems to me we're back to the old nature/nurture, heredity/environment argument. My thinking is tending towards that it's (life) a combination of both, just how much of each, I really have no clue. I think we're born judgy to some degree, it's how our genes are made up with how we interact with our environment which determines just how much or little we continue on with that or which direction we go. If (and 'ifs' are always questionable), heredity (or some form of evolution) is correct, we should be moving towards a society where more and more people tend to have common or at least within some set of parameters, similar beliefs in some areas. But since it's only been about 10,000-20,000 years since serious writing and serious government and serious communal organization has begun, that's probably not near enough time for certain genetic traits that have been affected over time by environment to take hold. We as humans are still finding our way on issues other than immediate survival. In the past (long and immediate to some degree) depending on the environment certain functions have been proscribed in order to improve survivability which made ultimate sense at one time but are either ignored or completely misinterpreted today, but we still follow them to some degree. Which ones, I leave up to you. Life is extremely variable and very hard to define....isn't it.
Sep 6, 2013
"extrapolating". The website decided to post my comment before I did.
Sep 6, 2013
What about fear-based judginess? Where does that fit in? I suspect fear is the basis for a lot of judgy thoughts and behavior. I'm very much aware of the role of fear in judgyness because I'm feeling very judgy right now. In particular, I'm feeling judgy towards everyone who watches, plays, coaches or even thinks positive thoughts about football.

My 165lb 17-year old plopped down on the couch last night and cheerfully asked if I wanted to have a conversation with him since, according to me - he said, it would be his last night with cognitive capacity. (Apparently I haven't done a particularly good job concealing my misgivings about the sport.) He starts tonight has both Center and Nose Guard. I looked up pictures of Nose Guards on Wikipedia. They are supposed to be brick walls with a head and arms attached--like the ones on opposing team...

Why do people play this sport? Why do they watch it? It makes no sense! I wouldn't give football fans a second thought - IF they weren't actively colluding to kill my son.

Electroplating from my perfectly normal experience - I conclude that fear drives about half of judgy thoughts and deeds. Take it for what it's worth. My son certainly does.
Sep 6, 2013
I get an uneasy feeling from the post and from comments that judginess is a 0 or 1 thing - either you're judgy or you're not. That's an unfortunate bias. I look at Ariel Castro and I judge that. For you to say "that's okay, I respect his worldview" - I judge that too. And I judge the system and the society that allowed that to happen for 10 years. That doesn't make me 100% judgemental; it means that I am applying a moral standard, which all of us do to some extent or another. Applying no standard at all makes you a sociopath; applying your standard to everyone who's different than you makes you a judgemental jerk at best and a tyrant at worst.

So I disagree completely with the notion that we're just particles bumping into each other. That may have been true once, but now we have intelligence, sentience, awareness of others, and the ability to understand how others might be impacted by the decisions we make. We have evolved past particlehood into something that requires SOME kind of moral restraint, and while it's impossible to establish a universal moral standard, we can't just throw it out the window.
Sep 6, 2013
People - all of them - love to talk about their differences.
They don't like to talk about their sameness.

In his book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman claims that if given the age and geography of someone he can broadly describe their views on key subjects like women in society, treatment of animals, importance of democracy etc.

Try it. He's right.

This affects us all.

The problem with philosophy is there is no impartial observer.

PS: No matter how hard we try to be objective, bias creeps in.
One minute we are talking about being a collection of particles, the next we are talking about things being bad. Bad is a subjective term. One person's bad is another's good.
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