Home
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?

 
Rank Up Rank Down Votes:  +57
  • Print
  • Share
  • Share:

Comments

Sort By:
+13 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
I judge everybody. I also judge you for not being judgemental. That's like looking away and being a coward, not taking responsibility to change things for the better.

I don't know if that's in my genes. I think so, I think I was born this way. It is not good for me, it makes me itchy and restless and unsatisfied, I know. I'd rather care less, but I sincerely believe in willpower and the fact that people can change if they get te right input.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
I've been very judgy in my youth and working on being less so over the years.

We need to lock up violent criminals because we can't have them running around causing mayhem. But I don't need to condemn them or judge them, as less than what I am.

We live out our lives at a human scale, within a human frame of reference. Although at the atomic level we are made of atoms bouncing around, in my opinion, physics does not describe our behaviour. The rules of chemistry that arise from physics, also transcend it. Similarly, the rules of biology transcend chemistry.

It may be the luck/randomness accounts for all of it.
 
 
-7 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
[I don't believe in a creator. I see humans as a collection of particles bumping into each other. In either case, no group of particles, or arrangement of ones and zeroes, is superior to another.]

How on earth does the latter follow from the former?

If we're all just particles bumping into each other which formed into their current state by accident, then the odds are extremely high that one group of particles IS superior to another. The probabilities of multiple genetic lines of particles bumping into each other by accident for millions of years all ending up at the exact same place is pretty much nonexistent.

It never ceases to amaze me when professed nihilists can't follow their own axioms to their logical conclusions.

[I have no individual skill that is not topped by at least one person in every demographic group.]

At least one person? Sure, maybe. But "most people", or even "a statistically significant amount of people"? Quite possibly not. I know you'd love to believe in "equality" (by appealing to outliers and exceptions), but the fact is, if you accept a worldview where everything happened by accident and through diverging genetic lines, then you have to accept that not all groups are the same and that it is highly probable that many groups are much better than other groups (on average) in many areas.

[There is no logical way to rank talents or virtues.]

Of course there is. There's just no logical way (according to your worldview) to determine what is the best metric by which to rank them. But the inability to do one doesn't negate the ability to do the other. For example, you can't logically say that "increased survival probabilities" is THEE metric by which all talents and virtues should be ranked, but you most definitely can say WHICH talents and virtues do better (or worse) at increasing your survival probabilities. That's an objective comparison.

Don't be lame, man. If you wanna be a materialistic nihilist, then do it for real. Don't just hide behind some watered-down, feel-good version of it.

WATYF
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
If you want to know if being judgy is learned or genetic all you have to do is have kids. Kids are born without a judgmental bone in their body. As they grow and mingle with people of all ages you can clearly see how their positive and negative interactions ultimately forge their reactions, opinions, and judgments. It makes sense from a survival standpoint that our minds are constantly weighing, balancing and reacting to influences thus forging opinions along the way.
 
 
+5 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
So if I understand your world view correctly; no one has any real control over their decisions (no free will) therefore we can't really hold anybody responsible for their actions, good or bad. Doesn't that make you a powerless spectator to your own existence? How do you derive any satisfaction from life?

I am genuinely curious about how you think not having "free will" manifests itself in our daily lives. Do you think we have no control over our decisions? Was it inevitable that you would marry your wife? Did you have any control over, or deserve any recognition for, investing time and energy in becoming a successful entrepreneur / cartoonist?
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
Everyone is constantly making judgments. The difference is that some try to impose their judgment to a greater extent than others.

A guy is kicking a puppy. Everyone who sees this will decide: I don't care because that is okay with me. Or I don't care because it does not affect me. Or I do care because that is reprehensible behavior. At this point you would not call the person judgmental because they have not opposed the guy kicking the puppy either verbally or physically. And why do we only say someone is judgmental when they disagree? Aren't you also making a judgment when you say -- I hate puppies, keep on kicking brother!

Whether the only filter we have to judge things is our own feelings and motivations or there is an objective standard aka deity is another question. But I think asking if being judgy is learned or genetic is the wrong question. Being judgy is innate to being a sentient being. Being assertive in imposing our judgments is probably a mixture of nature and nurture.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
Never used to be judgy. Liked people from all sorts of backgrounds and attitudes and found lots to be valued in all. Then I found myself getting more and more choosy about those who raised their kids to be parasites on society. I'm not talking about those who find themselves in hard times due to redundancy or deliberate management stupidity but those who choose a parasitic lifestyle over working for a living. In the UK, we call them Chavs. Steeped in drugs, crime and a dependency on the state for money. None of these existed before Thatcher destroyed our manufacturing. So, have I become judgmental or has politics created a class I look down on. Do all strata of society need someone to look down on?
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
I keep going back to religious and more general philosophical debates that end with predestination being inevitable. I don't see a blind clockmaker so much as a pool player: Imagine an infinitely huge billiard table that nonetheless has rails (humor me), with an infinite number of balls on its frictionless felt. A player of infinite intelligence and skill merely has to tap the cue ball correctly and laws of motion will result in every ball ultimately moving where he wants it to. If God knows His business he doesn't have to course-correct with divine intervention and such. Turns out we're not even meat puppets -- we're insanely elaborate versions of those falling domino things that use to be so big.

While it's easy enough to embrace that model on an intellectual level -- with or without a deity setting a first subatomic particle in motion, knowing the exact universe that will inevitably result -- I'm still going to live as if free will exists and the future (my own, at least) can be influenced. The appearance that this is true is overwhelming, or I'm simply wired to find it so. To persuade oneself otherwise not only strips away the concept of judgement, but any human emotion and maybe even the concept of sentience. Show me somebody who really, really buys total inevitability and I'll show you somebody who lies on the sofa and doesn't even turn on the TV.

Back on point, it's easy enough to use such a model to make a case against any judgement. One could argue that Nazi Germany was the result of some snotty critic panning Hitler's paintings, but that guy is blameless because a bratwurst affected certain chemicals in his brain that day, which somehow harkens back to a butterfly flapping its wings in China. But I argue that judginess is an essential component of free will. Whether free will is real or not.

For alternate takes on these profundities, I refer you to Reuben Bolling's "Tom the Dancing Bug" cartoons. Specifically the adventures of God Man, the brain in a jar, and the thoroughly meta Billy Dare.
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
Separately, I believe it's primarily learned behavior. Here's why:

I was raised in a conservative, very religious, Germanic family. We started with very little and prospered. Academics came easy for me. I suspect that all of these things contributed to my being quite judgmental when I was younger. My adult life experiences, and exposure to others in very different situations has dramatically changed that. I now like to quote "everyone has their demons," and I'm quite open-minded about what makes people tick.

Also, look at how people in NY "vote their conscience" vs how Midwesterners do. Or SF vs TX. People's opinions are shaped by their experiences. Genes probably have some affect, but I'd argue it's overwhelmed by experience.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
I agree with your overall message on not being judgy, but I believe that only one or two of your points support it.

1. This claim was thoroughly debunked last time. The best example is a study of children who were asked to forgo eating a marshmallow for the promise of getting two later. The kids who resisted grew up to be more successful adults. It had nothing to do with hunger or taste for marshmallows. Whether it's nature, nurture, or both can be argued, but the existence of willpower is proven and powerfully useful.

2. This one's pretty abstract, but I'd say that my collection of particles is better than Hitlers, and some people's collections are better than mine - at least for their affect on the world.

3. So you're not the very best in the whole world; so what? And aren't you the most successful cartoonist (at least by some measure)?

4. Ok

5. True. And this is the best reason not to judge (but we still have to deal with harmful/criminal behavior).

6. True. But we have decided, and mostly agreed upon norms/morals/etc which have been codified for uniformity and transparency (though imperfectly), as opposed to autocratic or mob whims. These are things we've decided are good for us in general. Even societies without written laws have norms regarding what is acceptable and tolerable. Without those, what prevents chaos?
 
 
+7 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
I'm judgy about some things and I think I can make a pretty good case for a genetic reason behind it.

I work with teens. I don't care if alcoholic, abusive or neglectful parents are just doing what their molecules tell them to do. They are doing terrible damage to the next generation. Survival is not just an individual thing. It is a community thing. Communities that organize well for mutual protection and development thrive where communities that lack those skills fail. I don't have any studies to back me up, but I think the evidence is pretty clear: Communities that nurture children, providing them with the emotional, social, intellectual and physical tools they need to thrive are going to prosper more than communities that habitually damage their children.

So, yes. I'm judgy. I can't help it. My naturally-selected molecules compel me.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
[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.]

Really. I could have sworn that in the recent post over privacy and maybe one or two other recent posts on lifestyle choices I detected a certain judgementalism on your part on those who dont share your attitude on the matter. Or dont you consider privacy a lifestyle choice?

[I always have a sense of shock and amazement when people disagree with my ironclad opinions. That might look judgy. -- Scott]
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
I am judgy but not judgmental. Meaning I will judge whether or not I want myself or family members to take part in, associate with, partake of various events, friendships, or things. I also recognize that some of these things change with my mood so I try to maintain a constant threshold of things that are always no (unless extreme !$%*!$%*!$%*!$ and things that are always yes, and do my best to decide and help my children decide in what I hope is the most rational process at that moment. Does it always work, no. But the alternative is to say hang it all and drift like a stick in a stream.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
Alright!! Now someone (Sarcasmo77) has made a judgment, and determined "judginess" is a flaw! As I've already 'fessed up to being judgy, I'm trying to decide if that was sarcasm in and of itself, and not some random judgment. Personally, I don't consider judginess a flaw, rather an asset, the ability to differentiate between points of view and observed actions of people. As I've said, I think everyone is judgy. What differentiates people are the actions taken upon those internal judgments. If I see someone with a weapon and a crazed look on their face, I'm going to use my judgment and either disable that person, or get far away in a hurry, depending on the situation. I would feel sorry for someone was not capable of making a judgment and becoming collateral in a random bumping of particles. That's what happens in a random universe, isn't it? And, according to Scott. it's nobody's fault.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
[I'm curious about the rest of you. Are you judgy? And if so, do you think it is learned or genetic?]

I think it is learned. But I also believe in willpower, freewill, and a Creator. Did you just judge me? I think you just judged me. :)

[I judged you to be completely normal. I'm not sure if that counts. -- Scott]
 
 
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 5, 2013
" 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."

The basis of our legal system is supposed to be protection of property and person. If we could actually get back to that then that would be the "alternative"
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
I will be shocked if anyone admits to being judgy themselves. One of the key tenets of judginess is one's ability to disregard one's own flaws - namely, judginess.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
Being judgy isn't inherently bad, as long as you are doing it appropriately and comparing apples with apples rather than apples with oranges. If you are seeking to hire or elect someone for a particular job then you very much should be judgy on that person's actual skill set. As far as factors outside that person's control and not actually related to their ability to perform the needed task (gender, race, religion, etc.) I think you should not take them into account either as a way to ignore abilities they genuinely do have or as a way to excuse for abilities they genuinely lack.
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
OF COURSE you can go your own way - Fleetwood Mac even wrote a song about it! (ducking for cover)
 
 
Sep 5, 2013
Some people are judgy.
Others are only judgy about people that are judgy.

Me? I'm only judgy about people that are judgy about people that are judgy.
 
 
 
Get the new Dilbert app!
Old Dilbert Blog