Category Archives: Research and Scholarship

Fast Food Ethics: Subway’s Chicken TASTES Like Chicken—Isn’t That Enough?

OK, what's in this Teriyaki Sweet Onion Chicken sandwich? (Hint: It's a trick question...)

OK, what’s in this  Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich? (Hint: It’s a trick question…)

DNA researcher Matt Harnden at Trent University’s Wildlife Forensic DNA Laboratory, working out of  Peterborough, Ontario, analyzed six popular chicken sandwiches served at various fast food chains. Unadulterated chicken should have 100% chicken DNA, or close to it. Seasoning, marinating or processing meat  bring that number down some , so fast food  wouldn’t be expected to have a perfect score.

The chicken in the following sandwiches were tested: McDonald’s Country Chicken – Grilled,Wendy’s Grilled Chicken Sandwich, A&W Chicken Grill Deluxe,Tim Hortons Chipotle Chicken Grilled Wrap, Subway Oven Roasted Chicken Sandwich, and Subway Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki, which is made with chicken strips.

The lab tested two samples of five of the chicken meat fillings, and one sample of the Subway strips. From each of those samples, the researchers isolated three smaller samples and tested each of those. The scores were then averaged for each sandwich. The results? Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Animals, Around the World, Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Marketing and Advertising, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Nate Silver Explains How Not Only Does “Bias Make You Stupid,” It Makes Others Stupid Too.

natesilverEthics Alarms covered some of this topic years ago in a post about how the news media’s unceasing and uncritical fawning over Barack Obama made him a less effective, indeed a bad, President. (If someone can find the link, I’ll post it. I don’t have the energy this morning.) Now polling and stat guru Nate Silver has written an intriguing analysis of the 2016 election that argues that liberal news media bias—you know, that thing that doesn’t exist—perversely helped elect President Trump. In an earlier January essay, Silver wrote,

National journalists usually interpreted conflicting and contradictory information as confirming their prior belief that Clinton would win. The most obvious error, given that Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, is that they frequently mistook Clinton’s weakness in the Electoral College for being a strength. They also focused extensively on Clinton’s potential gains with Hispanic voters, but less on indications of a decline in African-American turnout. At moments when the polls showed the race tightening, meanwhile, reporters frequently focused on other factors, such as early voting and Democrats’ supposedly superior turnout operation, as reasons that Clinton was all but assured of victory.

In his most recent article, Silver explains… Continue reading

9 Comments

Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship

Vintage Fake News: The Ridiculous Doomsday Clock

Doomsday clock showing 3 minutes to midnight

I’m sure you have noticed that the scary Doomsday Clock, which tells us how long we have until “midnight,” aka. nuclear Armageddon, has been on the move again.

NBC News recently announced that the dreaded Clock was ticking like the soundtrack of “24 Hours, proclaiming: “Thirty seconds closer to global annihilation!”   The New York Times, which now averages at least eight “President Trump is a menace to civilization!!! ARGGH!!!” columns, editorials or news stories every…single…day, duly announced, “Thanks to Trump, the Doomsday Clock Advances Toward Midnight.” Across the pond, the UK’s Independent stated as fact, “We’re closer to doom than any time since the Cold War!”

Why? Because the Doomsday Clock says so!

Can we officially make that “The Ridiculous Doomsday Clock?” This has to be the most useless and malfunctioning timepiece in recorded history.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day: this damn thing is never right.

The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists dreamed the gimmick up back in 1947 , and its initial setting was “seven minutes to midnight” as in…

What sense did it make to have a clock already set at seven minutes to 12? Why wasn’t it at least a seven-minute stopwatch? What was its setting during the Black Plague? Did the dinosaurs have a Doomsday Clock? Did a wise Diplodocus and a precocious Stegasaurus see a meteor coursing through the Jurassic skies and conclude, “Oh oh. Eventually one of those is going to land here, and we’re all toast. Move the Doomsday Clock to 80 million years before midnight, let’s settle our affairs, and tell the rest of the gang that the mammals are coming…”?

The group of egg-heads devising the clock explained that it symbolized ” the urgency of the nuclear dangers that the magazine’s founders—and the broader scientific community—are trying to convey to the public and political leaders around the world.” OK, I can see that as a minor, fear-mongering news item in 1947—kind of like the climate change hysteria is now—but I would also say that when a group describes a peril as urgent and it hasn’t urged in 70 years, that isn’t just old news, it isn’t newsworthy at all. Continue reading

66 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology

Super Bowl Sunday Ethics Quote Of The Day: Professor David DeSteno

pro-brady

“It’s not about the true facts, or about how honest you believe a group is, or what the group’s past behavior is. It doesn’t matter what sport it is, or what team it is, or even if it’s sports at all. Just being a part of a group, any group, is enough to excuse moral transgressions because in some way, you’re benefiting from it. Your moral compass shifts.”

—-David DeSteno, Northeastern University Professor of psychology, explaining why Boston fans believe the New England Patriots, their coach, Bill Belichik, and their star quarterback, Tom Brady, are as pure as the driven snow, while the rest of the country sees them as detestable

The professor’s point will be familiar to any Ethics Alarms readers who have perused the various pots here regarding cognitive dissonance, or even those familiar with the mantra, “Bias makes you stupid.”  However, he has done some interesting research on the phenomenon described in the Times Sports article this morning.

In a psychological experiment, researchers separated people into two groups and offered some of them an option: Complete a fun, 10-minute task, or take on a difficult, 45-minute one. Placed in a room alone, they were told to choose which task they would have to do, or let a coin flip decide. Either way, the person entering the room next would be left with the other task.

Afterward, those people were asked to rate how fairly they had acted, and 90 percent said they had been fair. Except that they were lying. In fact, they had picked the easy task for themselves, without even flipping the coin, wrongly believing that no one was watching…

DeSteno and his former student Piercarlo Valdesolo conducted studies that showed that even strangers placed into groups quickly start favoring the people in their group, as they would favor themselves, even if that group was created randomly, and only minutes earlier. Morality, as it turns out, can change by the second, and for no good reason.

Professor DeSteno told the Times that this isn’t a conscious decision, but an innate survival reaction…. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Research and Scholarship, Sports

For Those Who Are Confused, Here Is An Excellent Explanation Of Why Biased Mainstream Media “Fake News” Is More Sinister Than Hoax News Stories

cnn-newsroom-hands-up

I don’t feature Victor Davis Hanson’s commentary as much as I probably should. It’s my bias against being unjustly seen as biased: he’s an eloquent and thoughtful conservative scholar, but is almost completely embargoed by liberal websites and media. I have a difficult time fighting off efforts to pigeon-hole Ethics Alarms as a conservative blog as it is, and citing a prominent conservative Hanson is seen by many as a smoking gun.

Nonetheless, as we live through the Fake News Ethics Train Wreck,  a caboose on the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, Hanson’s latest commentary is a shaft of light. I have consistently referred to partial, distorted, badly reported, slanted or misframed news stories (like the current reporting of the Sally Yates betrayal as an act of principle and courage, rather than what it was: a politically motivated breach of professional ethics) as the real and sinister “fake news,” even as the mainstream media has pointed to the other kind—completely fabricated news—to distract from its own partisan, unethical reporting. Many commenters here have protested that the former isn’t truly “fake news.”

Hanson knocks that claim out of the park (Spring Training is fast approaching, so baseball metaphors are on my mind) , using many of the examples Ethics Alarms has cited previously. It is well worth reading.

Here is his essay,  Fake News: Postmodernism By Another Name.

25 Comments

Filed under Education, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship, The Internet, U.S. Society

From The Sally Yates Misinformation Files: Senator Diane Feinstein, Ethics Dunce And Incompetent Elected Official Of the Month

Biased, hypocritical and ignorant is no way to go through life, Senator...

Biased, hypocritical and ignorant is no way to go through life, Senator…

Adding to the ignorance and misinformation drowning ethics comprehension regarding the Sally Yates affair, Sen. Feinstein used her questioning of Attorney General designate Jeff Sessions this morning to misrepresent the ethical duty of that office. (I don’t have a link yet, since I just watched it on C-Span.)

First, Democratic Senator Feinstein set some kind of modern political record for gall by asking Sessions for assurances that he would objectively and independently represent the justice system and the people, and not be a “political arm of the White House.” A political arm of the White House (and the Democratic Party) is exactly what Eric Holder’s and Loretta Lynch’s Justice Department were, and the Senator knows it and never raised her voice in opposition to it for eight years! The question is a fair one, but she is estopped from asking it. Indeed, for any Democratic Senator to ask that question is tantamount to deceit, suggesting that the previous Justice Department met the standard Feinstein is demanding that Sessions acknowledge.

This is the unethical double standard mindset that Democrats have been displaying since November 8.

Following that master class in hypocrisy, Feinstein lauded the justly fired Sally Yates for embodying that ideal. Feinstein is ignorant of what lawyers do and the ethical principles their profession obligates them to follow, apparently. Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Research and Scholarship

Is This A Lie, False Assertion, Mistake, Sarcasm, Jumbo, Or A Statement Requiring Investigation? The Case Of The Runaway Pants

Where did his pants go, and how?

Where did his pants go, and how?

The statement in question: “They took off running by themselves without me,”  when “they” refers to the speaker’s pants.

It is perhaps germane to the matter that the speaker, 52-year-old Charles William Raulerson, was naked and blasting music from his vehicle in a car wash parking lot. When confronted by police and asked about the reason for the conspicuous absence of his pants, Raulerson allegedly uttered his remarkable explanation. Police ultimately felt it necessary to tase him.

Today I returned to this offering by the most prolific of my crack ethics issues scouts, Fred, after four plus hours with The Ethical Arts Players, in which I expounded on the best ways for an organization to develop a culture that discourages sexual harassment. I was grateful for something completely different, though I will note that if Mr. Raulerson were inside the car wash and a manager there, this episode might qualify as creating a hostile work environment.

Fred suggested that “My pants took off running by themselves without me” is “a lie that is obvious and absurd.” In truth, it is not.

It does not qualify as a Jumbo, because the statement, unlike “Elephant? What Elephant?” does not deny what is undeniable. If his pants were in plain view, immediately disproving Charles’ statement, then it would be a Jumbo. (If, upon having the pointed out, he responded, “Oh! The devils! I hadn’t noticed! They came back!”, we would be returned to square one.)

Nor is the statement a lie. It just isn’t. We cannot say with certainty that it is a lie until we know that Charles doesn’t believe that his pants ran off, and is deliberately trying to deceive. That would make it a lie, but we simply don’t know that. The fact that he’s in public without pants creates a rebuttable presumption that he might, for example, be hallucinating, and really believes that his pants ran away like the dish ran away with the spoon. (Is that nursery rhyme a lie?) Continue reading

20 Comments

Filed under Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement, Research and Scholarship