US financial regulators charged a father and son in Utah state with operating a $220 million property investment Ponzi scheme which targeted fellow members of the Mormon church. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged Wendell Jacobson and his son Allen Jacobson, of Fountain Green in central Utah, with selling shares in their purported real estate business and using the funds from some investors to pay returns promised to others. It said that since 2008 the two had solicited investments into their business of ostensibly buying, rehabilitating and then renting out properties. They appeared to use the memberships in the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — the Mormon church — "to make connections and win over the trust of prospective investors," the SEC said. Securities in their businesses were sold to investors without registering with the SEC as required by law.
Tag Archives | Ethics
Why do we stick up for a system or institution we live in — a government, company, or marriage — even when anyone else can see it is failing miserably? Why do we resist change even when the system is corrupt or unjust?
A new article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science, illuminates the conditions under which we’re motivated to defend the status quo — a process called “system justification.”System justification isn’t the same as acquiescence, explains Aaron C. Kay, a psychologist at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, who co-authored the paper with University of Waterloo graduate student Justin Friesen. “It’s pro-active. When someone comes to justify the status quo, they also come to see it as what should be.”
Reviewing laboratory and cross-national studies, the paper illuminates four situations that foster system justification: system threat, system dependence, system inescapability, and low personal control …
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Some atheist scientists with children embrace religious traditions for social and personal reasons, according to research from Rice University and the University at Buffalo — The State University of New York (SUNY).
The study also found that some atheist scientists want their children to know about different religions so their children can make informed decisions about their own religious preferences.
“Our research shows just how tightly linked religion and family are in U.S. society — so much so that even some of society’s least religious people find religion to be important in their private lives,” said Rice sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study’s principal investigator and co-author of a paper in the December issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The researchers found that 17 percent of atheists with children attended a religious service more than once in the past year. The research was conducted through interviews with a scientifically selected sample of 275 participants pulled from a survey of 2,198 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the natural and social sciences at 21 elite U.S.
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Buddhist scholar Graeme MacQueen gave a talk that explained why Buddhists should take action to stop war and its causes. Unfortunately, even the most compassionate people in our western society often find justification for doing nothing while suffering grows around them. Many Buddhists are in that frame of mind and they justify their non-action by claiming that their responsibility is soley to avoid violence in themselves. But Professor MacQueen has challenged this stance, recalling Buddhist scripture and revisiting the concept of a bodhisattva.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” Similarly, Professor MacQueen asks in this talk if we have the right to “give away things that don’t belong to us … the earth … species … ecosystems … the futures of our children and other people’s children.” Through silent collaboration, that is what many people are doing today.
A Dutch researcher has created a virus with the potential to kill half of the planet’s population. Now, researchers and experts in bioterrorism debate whether it is a good idea to publish the virus creation ”recipe”. However, several voices argue that such research should have not happened in the first place. The virus is a strain of avian influenza H5N1 genetically modified to be extremely contagious. It was created by researcher Ron Fouchier of the Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Netherlands. The work was first presented at a conference dedicated to influenza, that took place in September in Malta. Avian influenza emerged in Asia about 10 years ago. Since then there were fewer than 600 infection cases reported in humans. On the other hand, Fouchier’s genetically modified strain is extremely contagious and dangerous, killing about 50% of infected patients. The former strain did not represent a global threat, as transmission from human to human is rare. Or, at least, it was before Fouchier genetically modified it.
Given the state of the global economy, it might not surprise you to learn that psychopaths may be controlling the world. Not violent criminals, but corporate psychopaths who nonetheless have a genetically inherited biochemical condition that prevents them from feeling normal human empathy. Scientific research is revealing that 21st century financial institutions with a high rate of turnover and expanding global power have become highly attractive to psychopathic individuals to enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the companies they work for. A peer-reviewed theoretical paper titled “The Corporate Psychopaths Theory of the Global Financial Crisis” details how highly placed psychopaths in the banking sector may have nearly brought down the world economy through their own inherent inability to care about the consequences of their actions ...
The less people know about important complex issues such as the economy, energy consumption and the environment, the more they want to avoid becoming well-informed, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.
And the more urgent the issue, the more people want to remain unaware, according to a paper published online in APA’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
“These studies were designed to help understand the so-called ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to social issues,” said author Steven Shepherd, a graduate student with the University of Waterloo in Ontario. “The findings can assist educators in addressing significant barriers to getting people involved and engaged in social issues.”
Through a series of five studies conducted in 2010 and 2011 with 511 adults in the United States and Canada, the researchers described “a chain reaction from ignorance about a subject to dependence on and trust in the government to deal with the issue.”
Guilt, tiredness, stress, shock – can specialized drugs help to mute the qualities that make soldiers human, asks Michael Hanlon in the Independent (with thanks to disinfo reader Freeman for the tip):
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…The era of The Terminator, the perfect robotic killing machine, is decades away; to date, all efforts to create a humanoid robot that can climb the stairs, let alone fight the Taliban, have been risible. But scientists are reporting breakthroughs with the next-best thing – the creation of human terminators, who feel less pain, less terror and less fatigue than “non-enhanced” soldiers and whose very bodies may be augmented by powerful machines.
Efforts to understand the brain of the soldier and put this knowledge to good use have been going on for some time. Professor Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at Pennsylvania State University, studies the way neuroscience is being co-opted by the military. “Right now, this is the fastest-growing area of science,” he says.
Stephen Prothero writes at CNN:
In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, recent events support the nay-sayers. I am referring to the troubles of Herman Cain and Joe Paterno.
How we respond to ethical conundrums often boils down to empathy. In the abortion debate, do you identify with the woman who wants an abortion or with the fetus? Concerning the federal deficit, do you identify with the wealthy person who might see his taxes rise or with the poor person who might see her unemployment benefits extended?
One purpose of the world’s great religions is to widen our circle of empathy beyond ourselves and our families to others in our community, and in the wider world. Christianity, for example, has long taught that we should empathize with “the least of these,” and particularly with the poor and oppressed (see Luke 4:18).
The morality plays we are now witnessing — the sexual harassment allegations swirling around Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and the sexual assault charges swirling around the Penn State football program headed by former coach Joe Paterno — provide an opportunity to assess just where our collective empathy lies …