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Your experiment matches Dan Ariely's experiment very well. In his book, "Predictably Irrational" when people are made to remember the ten commandments or even the thought of ten commandments, or any such honesty pledge, their dishonesty level drops drastically.

One of these days, I'm going to make a chapterwise summary of that book so that I can remember the experiments and behaviours at a glance.




I wonder why such a phenomenon occurs, when five of the commandments have nothing to do with morality.

Also, in the Army we had the Warrior's Ethos, the Army Values, the Soldier's Creed, and the Creed of the Non-Commissioned Officer crammed down our throats daily. While are some awesome people in the Military, I've run into just as many dishonorable people as I have in the general population.


You are missing a control, so you can't really judge. Maybe it would have been a stinking, fetid den of iniquity and moral puss had they not.

Or, more likely, they might be somewhat worse, for some reasonable definition of somewhat.


How is it inaccurate to state that the morality of military members was the same as the general population, but not inaccurate to suggest that only degenerates who need constant supervision join the military in the first place?


"I've run into just as many dishonorable people as I have in the general population."

Can you think of any group this would not be true for given a sample size or population as large as the military?


The point was that I can't. The study mentioned above claims that people act more honestly when they are reminded of a set of values to which they are supposed to adhere. I was simply stating that while I was in the military (for about a decade), we were constantly reminded of the set of values which we were supposed to follow, yet I saw no signs that such a practice has any effect whatsoever on an individual's behavior.

Honest, decent people who join the military (or any other group) will likely remain honest and decent. Dishonest people will most likely remain dishonest until their actions prevent them from getting what they want.


In simple, harsh words, basically you say that teaching of good values has no value. I think that the things are much more complex that that.

Perhaps those values from military doesn't have/had any resonance because they weren't, in fact, good? Or, told in a good way? (I'm thinking now that tyranny in teaching generates repulse not acceptance)

Also, if we consider that the teaching was correct (both as content and form - I dunno of course) who knows if the "soldiers who didn't change" would be worse if this teaching would be applied?

I think that the human being is the victim of influence and good influences play a determinant role on his behavior. But now what means "good" - this is entirely another chapter...


You make very good points. There could obviously be people who had rose-tinted view of the military only to have it shattered in the first week. That could have easily made them bitter about the whole teaching process.

Secondly, I don't think the ideals help if you don't agree with them. You choose to become an Doctor and remember the Hippocratic oath. Same with Engineers and Lawyers. If you find half way through, that you don't want to be an Engineer or a Doctor, you can always bail out and switch. But with the military, bailing out is completely out of the question.


I said no such thing. The teaching of good values entails quite a bit more than merely repeating a set of values or a specific creed.

While people may or may not like what the military does, most of its creeds/values are for the most part positive things. The Army values for example are Duty, Loyalty, Selfless Service, Respect, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage - pretty generic and not nefarious at all.


Did you hang out with those people during civilian life? How can you say the various credos had no effect on them if you do not have the same experience without the credos.


I was clearly speaking from my personal experiences and perceptions, which are obviously not intended to be considered the equivalent of a formal scientific study.

But since you asked, why would one have to have experience with that exact group of people prior to coming to a conclusion? I agree that it would be ideal if that was the case, but there are many studies considered to be scientifically valid that use one group of people who come from similar circumstances as a control, while only testing on another group. In my example I suppose the control would have been the people I know from outside the military. As I stated though, my comment was just an anecdote from my personal experiences, not a peer-reviewed, published article intended to expose the author of the other study as a fraud.


And SoftwareMaven said that you don't have a control. What he meant is that, if these values hadn't been reminded there's a very high probability that honest people might have done dishonest things, and dishonest people might have done dishonest things of far greater magnitude.


There was someone who knew that before Dan Ariely: every priest of the past two thousand years, who led a congregation on daily prayers or confession.


The priests did not write research papers and publish it in peer-reviewed journals. Neither did they bother with controls in experiments. So please don't be snarky.




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