Tag Archives: cheating

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

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“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

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Ethics Dunce: “The Big Hurt,” Frank Thomas [UPDATED]

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

An ethics whiff for Frank Thomas

Baseball, and all its annual ethics puzzles, begins in about two weeks when Spring Training gets underway.  Meanwhile, I have to tolerate everyone talking about Tom Brady and the Cheating Patriots as the NFL makes billions encouraging  Americans to cheer for the gradual lobotomizing of young athletes for their pigskin entertainment. Still, even the off-season of America’s Pastime provides ethics fodder.

Frank Thomas, the 6’6″ 300 pound ex-first baseman, never was suspected of using steroids before he was elected to the  Hall of Fame, in part because he was naturally so huge and strong that if he had used steroids he would have ended up battling Godzilla in Tokyo. “The Big Hurt,” as he was called, was and is an outspoken opponent of steroid use in baseball, but speaking at  the annual White Sox fan convention last week, he proved that he is an ethics bush-leaguer.

The recent Hall of Fame vote  elected two players, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez, long rumored to be users of performance enhancing drugs, and the vote totals showed  increased support for uber-steroid cheat Barry Bonds and accused steroid-user Roger Clemens. The New York Post reported that Thomas said, without mentioning names, after he was asked how he felt about the election results, Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The 2017 Hall Of Fame Vote

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Baseball’s Hall of Fame votes were announced yesterday, and is often the case, the ethical issues raised were as interesting as the choices. The Baseball Writers Association Of America chooses who is to be enshrined; successful candidates must be on 75% of all ballots submitted, and have ten years of edibility after the initial 5 year waiting period expires.

Here were the vote totals of the players receiving significant support; the years each player has been on the ballot is the last number.

Jeff Bagwell 381 (86.2%)  (7)

Tim Raines 380 (86.0%) (10)

Ivan Rodriguez 336 (76.0%) (1)

Trevor Hoffman 327 (74.0%) (2)

Vladimir Guerrero 317 (71.7%) (1)

Edgar Martinez 259 (58.6%) (8)

Roger Clemens 239 (54.1%) (5)

Barry Bonds 238 (53.8%) (5)

Mike Mussina 229 (51.8%) (4)

Curt Schilling 199 (45.0%) (5)

Manny Ramirez 105 (23.8%) (1)

Bagwell, Raines and Rodriguez were elected. Hoffman, the all-time leader in relief pitcher saves, just missed, and will almost certainly get into the Hall next year.

Ethics Observations:

1. More than anything, it is discouraging to see Barry Bonds crossing the 50% threshold. Bonds cheated, took the integrity out of some of baseball’s most important records, has lied about it to this day, and corrupted the game. Of course he is disqualified by the character requirements for entrance to the Hall. Bond’s vote total rise is attributed to several factors, including the old, unethical rationalizations we have been reading in defense of Bonds since he was playing. The latest excuses include the influx of younger voters who never saw Bonds nor witnessed the grotesquely inflated mutant he turned himself into, more voters throwing up their hands in frustration over the problem of sifting through so many players whose PED use is rumored, likely, or insufficiently proven, and voters who find the Hall’s recent election of former commissioner Bud Selig hypocritical, since he contrived ignorance to allow Bonds and others break the rules as long as possible. None of those excuses and rationalizations justify a single vote for Bonds.

2. Ivan Rodriquez‘s election also probably helped Bonds. He was one of the greatest catchers of all time, quite possibly the greatest defensive catcher, but in Jose Canseco’s first baseball and steroid tell-all book, “Juiced,” the steroidal slugger wrote of personally injecting I-Rod with the stuff while they were Texas Rangers. The catcher never tested positive in a drug test, but Canseco’s accusation was credible, especially after Rodriquez magically gained about 25 pound of muscle and started hitting home runs. Unlike Bonds, however, the evidence against him was slim.  Jose, for example, is one of the great slime-balls in sports history. He may not be a liar, but since he admittedly wrote hisbook out of spite, he might be.

3. Ivan, in turn, was helped by the election of Jeff Bagwell. No player ever pinned steroid use on him, but Bagwell was judged a steroid-user by many because he became so muscular after starting out as a normally-built third baseman. Bagwell lifted weighs like a fiend, and clearly had a Hall of Fame level career, so keeping him out purely on suspicion seemed unfair, and was. His election slipped down the slope to boost Rodriquez, though, which in turn allowed some writers to rationalize voting for Bonds (and Roger Clemens, not as clearly guilty as Bonds, more seriously implicated than Rodriguez). Continue reading

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Yes, Poker Champ Phil Ivey Cheated, Even If He Didn’t Think He Did

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Phil Ivey is known as one of the best all-around professional card players in the world, in part because he notices things that other players, even great ones, may not. While playing baccarat at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City in 2012, Ivey and a friend noticed  inconsistencies on the back of the cards that allowed him to read some of them as if they were marked. He even asked the dealer to position the cards so he could see them better, as in “see what nobody else noticed, giving him an unfair advantage.” Some advantage: he and his associate, Cheng Yin Sun, won $9.6 million at baccarat over four visits to the casino, then won an additional $504,000 betting their winning at the  craps table.

A federal judge has now ruled that the two must repay the $10 million. What they did is called “edge-sorting,” and it is considered cheating, though technically the ruling was that Ivey and Sun breached their contract with the casino.

In baccarat, players bet on the relative value of two hands of two cards each before the hands are dealt or the cards are revealed. The game is  played with six or eight decks of cards placed into a dealing “shoe,” and the object is to bet on the hand that will have a total value closest to nine. If a player knows the value of the first card in the shoe before it’s dealt, the player has a significant advantage over the house. Borgata accused Ivey and Sun of exploiting defects in playing cards manufactured by Gemaco Inc. that were not cut symmetrically during the manufacturing process, so Ivey and Sun were able to spot the manufacturing defects and  read the “marked”  cards without actually touching or defacing them themselves. The New Jersey Casino Controls Act requires that all casino games offer “fair odds to both sides.”  Without intending to or knowing, the casino was creating unfair odds against itself, and these two players made out like bandits as a result.

Ivey’s lawyer argued in a court filing that since his client never touched the cards, his advantage was like the casino trying to distract players with “free alcohol served by only the most curvaceous and voluptuous females in the industry.” Continue reading

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Fake News Headline Of The Afternoon: “Electors Demand Intelligence Briefing Before Electoral College Vote”

fake-newsWow! The Electors have been so impressed by the CIA’s unsupported guesswork that Russia was trying to help Donald Trump win that they are demanding an intelligence briefing! The Electors! You know…well…

…Nine Democratic electors who are already pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton, and self-important paramedic Chris Supron, Republican Never-Trumper who has already said he is voting for John Kasich.

This headline by Politico (The Hill’s is just as bad:” Electors Want Briefing on Russian Interference”)  is deliberate and calculated fake news, and far more disruptive to the election and the nation than anything the Russians leaked. It’s in the specialized category of deceitful reporting to mislead, as well as click-bait. “Electors” sounds like the news media’s unconscionable drum-beating for Democrats trying to undermine both the election and Trump’s Presidency has a chance of actually overturning the results. “Ten electors”—the truth— sounds irrelevant to anything, which it is: Nine partisan Democratic electors and a faithless Republican who has already made up his mind comprise a pathetic and biased group of bitter-enders, and nothing more. It isn’t worthy of a news story at all. I wonder, what is the minimum number that The Hill and Politico would try to justify referring to as “electors.” Five? Two?

Among the Democrats, by the way, are Christine Pelosi, Nancy’s daughter, New Hampshire’s Carol Shea-Porter, a former member of Congress, and three three former  Democratic New Hampshire legislators, Terie Norelli, Bev Hollingsworth and Dudley Dudley. (Yes, Dudley Dudley.) Then there is D.C. Councilwoman Anita Bonds, former Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clayborne Pell, Maryland progressive activist Courtney Watson, and Colorado  delegate Micheal Baca, who has been working since the election to use the Electoral College to veto the votes of millions. No political agendas there!

And Chris, of course, the sole Republican.

I certainly hope the public understands and remembers how the Democratic Party disgraced its traditions and role in American politics by trying to win an election through twisting the rules after the votes were counted. I thought the fixed Senate impeachment trial of Bill Clinton was a travesty, but this is infinitely worse.

I haven’t heard any prominent party leaders condemning this attack on democracy, which tells us how just corrupt and unprincipled this increasingly anti-democratic party has become. The news media is complicit, of course, as Politico’s inexcusably misleading reporting shows.

Both deserve to pay a high price in the loss of respect and public trust.

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.)

OK, have I got this straight, Congressman? You want to abolish the Electoral College, because its antidemocratic, but before you do, you want to use it to overturn an election that you agree was fair and square. Got it. You're an idiot.

OK, have I got this straight, Congressman? You want to abolish the Electoral College, because it’s antidemocratic, but before you do, you want to use it to overturn an election that you agree was fair and square. Got it. You’re an idiot.

Now a member of Congress has sided with the history-addled cheating advocates who are pressuring Republican electors to overturn the results of the 2016 election. One might expect electors to be this ignorant and confused, since they are not vetted or qualified and may be, for all voters know, self-righteous paramedics.  Smug and partisan social justice warriors using fake names are also not surprising us when they advocate something this unethical. However, we should be able to expect our elected representatives to have more respect for and understanding of our system. Unfortunately, we can’t.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) concedes that Donald Trump won the election “fair and square.” (This is a small point in Himes’ favor, at least, since so many of his political brethren won’t even admit that). Nonetheless, he has announced that electors should defy the electorate and make Hillary Clinton President when they gather on December 19to  vote,despite the fact that Trump beat Clinton by winning states that gave him, or were supposed to, 306 Electoral College votes.

Himes’s “argument“ mark him as a bona fide idiot. We should not have bona fide idiots in Congress.

“We’re 5 wks from Inauguration & the President Elect is completely unhinged. The electoral college must do what it was designed for,” he tweeted yesterday. No, in fact, that was not what it was designed for. The Electoral College was designed to prevent big states in a federal system from dictating to the other states, which might not share their culture or sensitivities. Imagine a big, wacko state like California dominating our politics. In fact, that’s exactly what would happen without the Electoral College. In the election just completed, Clinton won the Golden Bankrupt Illegal Immigrant-Enabling State by almost 4 million votes, while Trump got more votes than  Clinton in the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.  That’s why we have the Electoral College, and a more brilliant device the Founders never devised. Continue reading

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“Reasons To be Happy About The Election Of Donald Trump”?

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Ann Althouse published a link to this article linked by Instapundit, and Prof Reynolds distilled his own seven reasons “to be happy” about the election upset. Four of the seven reasons are dubious or premature—“he could still blow it,” writes Reynolds. Ya think? He hasn’t been inaugurated yet!—but three, at least, have validity:

1.  Killed off dynastic politics, at least for now. If Hillary had won, 4 of the last 5 presidents would have come from two families. That’s not healthy.

2. Kept Hillary out of the White House. She’s amazingly crooked even by DC standards, and amazingly inept even by DC standards as well. Debacles galore have been prevented by keeping her out. Plus, a Clinton presidency would have allowed the completion of the Obama Administration’s weaponization of the federal government and possibly ensured one-party rule for decades. And at the very least, it would have allowed the sorry gang that Obama and Clinton brought in (go read the Podesta emails!) to bore in for four to eight more years….

5. Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance: They thought they were going to hand this election to Hillary. Now they’re realizing just how few people like or trust them, while Trump bypasses them using Twitter and YouTube. As I’ve said before, in the post-World War II era, the press has enjoyed certain institutional privileges based on two assumptions: (1) That it’s very powerful; and (2) That it will exercise that power responsibly, for the most part. Both assumptions have been proven false in this election cycle. Like many of the postwar institutional accommodations, this one will be renegotiated under Trump. It’s past time. After getting spanked in 2004 over RatherGate, the press realized with Katrina that if they all converged on the same lies they could still move the needle. Now they can’t.

None of these should be enough to pronounce oneself “happy” that we have elected a President who prior to his election displayed no fitness for office whatsoever, and an absence of such basic requirements of competent leadership as self-control, judgment, decorum, the ability to speak clearly, and knowledge of the Constitution. However, since Reynolds got a start on a list of silver linings to the Trump election cloud, let me complete one. I’ll call the Instapundit’s #5 the Ethics Alarm #3 and take it from there. I reiterate that even the whole list doesn’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse, but Trump’s election still has  up-sides that we can identify immediately. Continue reading

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