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The Force of liberal guilt, it is strong.
September 28, 2010 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Kill Whitey. It's the Right Thing to do.

Cornell psychologist David Pizarro conducts experiments on the well-known trolley problem, but with a novel twist: he varies the race of the individuals in the scenarios, to determine whether subjects' responses would differ. The results, particularly the breakdown by self-identified political ideology, are fascinating, and indicate that our morality may be far more inconsistent and context-dependent than most believe. Article link here.
posted by googly (142 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eat the rich.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:17 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lab assistant: Ok so you're on a bridge, and in front of you is a guy named Chip Ellsworth III. Below, there's a --

Subject: I'd push him off.

Lab assistant: Wait, we haven't gotten through the scenario. Below, there's a --

Subject: He's going around calling himself Chip. I'd push him off. Can I have my $5 now?
posted by condour75 at 7:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [103 favorites]


Looking at the paper, I'm calling foul; I see no citation reading "Farley, C." on it.
posted by adipocere at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


This is interesting, but one problem with it when I first read was the disconnect between names "Chip Ellsworth III" vs "Tyrone Payton" (to me, as an upper-middle class white male). The "white" name has a lot more of class and cultural signifiers than the "black American" name does, which lacks the class tell that, frankly, all three of the parts of the white name does. So it looks like it's testing both class and race factors for the white name, while just race factors for the black name. (I suppose you could argue that "Tyrone" has a slight lower/lower-middle class edge to it, but I'm not sure. And Payton, with Peyton Manning!, has none of that.) I'm not even sure if "Payton" is at all a race signifier, while Ellsworth is.
posted by skynxnex at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Pff yeah right like a fat guy is gonna stop an out of control trolley.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:22 AM on September 28, 2010


Black or white, the important thing is that we push that big fat man off the bridge. He's so fat he'd STOP THE TROLLEY!!!! Could you imagine the big squishing noise from all that fatty fat on the big fat guy as the trolley splooshes into his fat and slowly grinds to a stop?!! HA HA HA HA HA FAT GUY!

Anyway, the point is, all lives are equally valuable and people who are prejudiced should feel bad about themselves. (Not as much as fat people should, but still pretty bad.)
posted by PlusDistance at 7:24 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you push this button, someone you don't know, somewhere in the world, will die...
posted by r_nebblesworthII at 7:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Pff yeah right like a fat guy is gonna stop an out of control trolley.

That depends; are you expecting survivors?
posted by griphus at 7:25 AM on September 28, 2010


Chip Ellsworth III sounds like a rich asshole who happens to be white.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


The other problem: What if liberals prefer Jazz to classical music? But the other problem is that while the names are racially significant, they're also class signifier What if you gave the white guy the name "Billy Ray Mercer" or "Cletus Baskins"?


Also this was interesting:
They offered some other scenarios too, about collateral damage in military situations, for instance, and found similar differences: Conservatives accepted collateral damage more easily if the dead were Iraqis than if they were Americans, while liberals accepted civilian deaths more readily if the dead were Americans rather than Iraqis.
posted by delmoi at 7:27 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


So we’ll tell a child on one day, as Pizarro’s parents told him, that ends should never justify means, then explain the next day that while it was horrible to bomb Hiroshima, it was morally acceptable because it shortened the war. We act — and then cite whichever moral system fits best, the relative or the absolute.

Interesting article, but it seems like a major rhetorical leap to go from a grad student's pet project measuring split-second hypothetical decisions, and applying that result to decisions that are made from the culmination of a years-long project like the atomic bomb. Not such great science journalism, at this point.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:28 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's a copout, I know, but a while back I just started responding to friends who ask hypotheticals like this by telling them to stop wasting everyone's time because I have no goddamn idea what I would "really" do in an immediate situation like that if it happened in real life as opposed to being bullshitted about it on a porch after two beers. But to be honest, that's probably the most honest answer they'd get out of any of this data.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:28 AM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


I would take no action under any circumstances. Anything I could do seems like it would just land me some jail time or get me sued by some family member.
posted by sourwookie at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Chip is not only white, and not only wealthy. He's wealthy by inheritance, and so hasn't even had to work to get his status. Tyrone, on the other hand, could be pretty much anyone.

It's a bad choice of names and I can't see how the researcher can honestly claim to have learned anything about liberal attitudes to race, as opposed to privilege.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Seriously, is anyone even named or nicknamed "Chip" anymore? I mean I thought my real world name was rare enough but this is a name that would have been common in, what? 1935?
posted by blucevalo at 7:30 AM on September 28, 2010


The Should You Kill The Fat Man test is interesting. I was 83% consistent in my moral view.

Never you mind in which direction that moral goes.
posted by nomadicink at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Maybe liberals just really like Jazz?
posted by schmod at 7:31 AM on September 28, 2010


Isn't this the fear of liberals being perceived as in any way racist . It must be one of the biggest fear of a liberal , even if they are not racist they must demonstrate this fact especially to non-whites.
posted by dprs75 at 7:32 AM on September 28, 2010


Tyrone Payton doesn't read as "black" to me, but rather has "elderly" or "old-fashioned", perhaps because of Tyrone Slothrop? I definitely see the class difference, and it's interesting that the researcher seemingly unconsciously coded "white" as "upper class".
posted by muddgirl at 7:33 AM on September 28, 2010


Well, to tell the Truth I like Ellsworth
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:35 AM on September 28, 2010


Based on my anecdotal evidence, Payton (or Peyton) is a name for a white female third-grader.
posted by padraigin at 7:37 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Louis Winthorpe III or Billy Ray Valentine?
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:38 AM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


Seriously, is anyone even named or nicknamed "Chip" anymore? I mean I thought my real world name was rare enough but this is a name that would have been common in, what? 1935?

Well sure, that's when Grandpa got the nickname. Then, through Lamarckian evolution, it managed to retcon his birth certificate and get transmitted to his progeny.
posted by condour75 at 7:39 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I freaking hate these hypotheticals, because a person fat enough to literally stop a train is also going to be too weighty for anyone but Superman to push off a bridge. And if that's the situation, then Superman is a dick.
posted by muddgirl at 7:39 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Your sitting in a large lecture hall. It is crowded and stuffy. The wi-fi is down. This prof named Picasso or something is droning on about a hypothetical problem, which, while implausible in real life, is designed to create an outcome which would suggest some sort of deep-seated and unconscious racial prejudice in those participating.

You have a fresh lemon meringue pie under your seat, which you have just purchased and are planning to take to your girlfriend's parents, who you have never met but have invited you to dinner. (You have a couple cold-packs in the box to keep it fresh.)

The problem: do you casually walk up to the lectern and give this prof what he sorely needs (a nice pie in the face) in front of several hundred impressionable undergrads, or do you proceed with Plan A, thereby getting into good graces with GF's folks, and allowing this guy to escape un-pied.

There are three minutes left in class. What do you do?
posted by Danf at 7:40 AM on September 28, 2010 [41 favorites]


But it asked if I thought killing people was wrong then told me I was inconsistent when I wanted to kill someone. That isn't inconsistent, killing people is wrong. I'd feel very bad about it. Stupid test.
posted by shinybaum at 7:41 AM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


only white people say whitey
posted by Danila at 7:42 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I conducted a similar test using the names Sufjan Stephens and Gucci Mane. Surprisingly 100% of the white liberals I tested this on chose Sufjan Stephens.
posted by geoff. at 7:42 AM on September 28, 2010


Seriously, is anyone even named or nicknamed "Chip" anymore? I mean I thought my real world name was rare enough but this is a name that would have been common in, what? 1935?

I know one currently (he's about 40), and knew a couple in college. Also a Trip and a Trey.
posted by rtha at 7:44 AM on September 28, 2010


PlusDistance: "Black or white, the important thing is that we push that big fat man off the bridge. He's so fat he'd STOP THE TROLLEY!!!! Could you imagine the big squishing noise from all that fatty fat on the big fat guy as the trolley splooshes into his fat and slowly grinds to a stop?!! HA HA HA HA HA FAT GUY!"

Big squishing noises? It's going to be like you're standing on a bridge over a log flume ride. A huge wave of gore as the trolley grinds to a halt on the man's bones. Are you ready to be covered in giant chunks of quivering flesh to save a few lives?
posted by graventy at 7:46 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I too hate this sort of thing. It came up at a meetup a couple of weeks ago (I may even have spontaneously brought it up, but there was a lot of beer around, so...)

My old reply to the original question used to be "I'd save all the passengers with my dragon". What dragon? It's a made-up story. Not only that, but it's a made-up story fantastical enough that it supposes a railway where the passengers can easily change the points from the platform. I think I'm allowed a dragon.

My current answer is that I'd do whatever was necessary to kill the maximum number of passengers, as I'd be likely to get more money for the cameraphone photographs that way.

Because it's a story.

It annoys me because people make moral decisions all the time - the example I usually give is walking past where the post is filed in the building where I live. One day I was half way up the stairs and heard the whole pile of post, no doubt dislodged by the wind I made as I went past, slide on to the floor. So the question was whether I ignored it, or turned back down the stairs and refiled the letters. That's an actual moral question, of a kind that actually occurs on a daily basis. No need for hyperbolic melodrama at all.

(Of course I went back to pick up the letters. I might allow very many theoretical people to die for more profitable snapshots, but I'm not a complete monster.)
posted by Grangousier at 7:48 AM on September 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


Well thank goodness people are still embarrassed when they get caught applying double standards.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:49 AM on September 28, 2010


Exactly, shinybaum! I'm not a freaking robot - I think that all killing is wrong, but I don't expect myself to be perfect or to make the perfectly moral choice in every situation.

So I guess these stupid "consistency" tests just aren't meant for me, because I don't expect anyone to be 100% morally or ethically consistent.
posted by muddgirl at 7:49 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The fat man test is stupid, because if someone was fat enough to stop a train, then

(a) You'd be utterly unable to move him.
(b) His weight alone would be likely to collapse the bridge.
(c) He would already be dead, because the seriously large amount of mass it would take to stop a train is completely incompatible with human life. Even if you could somehow conjure such a fat man from the ether and place him on the bridge, he would simply immediately cease to live.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:50 AM on September 28, 2010 [12 favorites]


the bicycle thief
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:53 AM on September 28, 2010


I'd push the entire Ellsworth clan in front of the trolley and use the inheritance taxes to fund the New York Philharmonic and the Harlem Jazz Orchestra.
posted by ecurtz at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh don't get me started on the subject of dummy names that supposedly have clear racial identifiers.

Last year I tallied up the roster of minority PhD students I have advised in my career and realized it sounded like a roster of the British peerage.
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Onomatopoeia Jones
posted by sciurus at 7:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


So here's the point I never see discussed. Assume that the guy (gal?) is not fat: any warm body would stop the trolley. Do you push him or her off? What if he's black? What if he's white? What if he's poor? Rich? Mentally handicapped? Mentally ill? A child? A grandfather? A single mother with mouths to feed? The would-be curer of cancer? What if you know s/he will both cure cancer and become the next Hitler while simultaneously solving world hunger and eliminating MS by farming Tibetans, Soylent Green style?

Distractions.

How many people respond: I would rather throw myself off the bridge to save those people rather than murder someone/allow a group to die.

How many people would sacrifice themselves to stop an atrocity, or to avoid inevitably committing an atrocity?

That's not, apparently, the kind of moral question that we want to consider.
posted by mister-o at 7:58 AM on September 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


There are three minutes left in class. What do you do?

Assault a professor in front of witnesses vs. be nice to my GF's folks, make a good first impression w/ them @ dinner.

One of these is more likely to get me laid.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:58 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you’re wondering whether this is just because conservatives are racist—well, it may well be that conservatives are more racist.

It may well be.
posted by three blind mice at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


You don't know enough swamp yankees. "III" is new blood. I know at least two families with names the equivalent of Chip Ellsworth VI, and a ton of IV's. None of the men of those lineages have ever had two nickles to rub together halfway to payday. They usually have nicknames like "Albert" or "Joe", because there are a zillion cousins all named Chip, too, and only the oldest of a given generation gets to actually use the name.

Now, if the choices were run over a jowly white man in a tuxedo, top-hat and monocle counting out a sack of gold coins while sitting on the bridge, or a black man who's good looks come from his honest, simple nature and is on the bridge to rescue a kitten, it would be a more honest test... and illustrate how useless it is, mired completely in the tester's expectations. "The question is probably a trap to make me look like a racist" is unsurprisingly absent from the context of the answers.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


what if whitey is ...on the moon?
posted by The Whelk at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


A rat bit my sister Nell.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:02 AM on September 28, 2010


You can call it "liberal guilt" or you can call it not wilfully blinding yourself to American history.

In the history of this nation, blacks have suffered immensely and whites have profited immensely from their suffering.

Somebody who is not in denial of that fact might find the idea of sacrificing a black man's life to save white people appalling enough (and the idea of saving many black people's lives at the cost of a single white man's that it affects their decision making.

The article is about the fact that factors like these in fact affect our moral judgements, even if we don't admit it (and probably don't know about it consciously) and we frame our justifications of our moral judgements in terms that don't account for these factors. That's all valid & important stuff to study, and indeed, it shows that liberals in particular have these factors affecting their decisions in ways they don't account for in their explanations of their reasoning. That's fine.

It just pisses me off when people describe clear, accurate consciousness of social and historical reality as "liberal guilt," as if it were some kind of neurotic tic.

Possibly the OP was being ironic, in which case, you know, write this comment off as humorless grumpiness. That's fine. But damn that phrase pisses me off.
posted by edheil at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2010 [14 favorites]


The test is way stupider than that. It forces you to chose an absolute when none is appropriate.

> Question 2: The morality of an action is determined by whether, compared to the other available options, it maximises the sum total of happiness of all the people affected by it.

That's certainly a big part of determining it but a naive interpretation leaves you vulnerable to Pascal's Mugging among others.
posted by Skorgu at 8:07 AM on September 28, 2010


The liberal guilt thing is a red herring, this is the interesting part: We act — and then cite whichever moral system fits best, the relative or the absolute. FREE WILL IS AN ILLUSION SHEEPLE. Here, the Sims guy knows whats up (skip to 5:40, I'd link to it but it doesn't seem to be working).
posted by The Devil Tesla at 8:09 AM on September 28, 2010


"The undergrads were of mixed race..."

Funny -- this has different meanings depending on who's reading it. Did I pass the test?
posted by hermitosis at 8:09 AM on September 28, 2010


the bicycle thief

Moral decisions made easy: DON'T STEAL BIKES, BRO! Remember, black or white, it doesn't matter. Just throw the bike thief a beating and be done with it.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:10 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have a real problem with the "Should you kill the fat man" test, specifically with the last question. The example is so unlikely in the real world, and the likelihood that the fat man would actually give valid information so low, that the scenario is bunk.
posted by KGMoney at 8:12 AM on September 28, 2010


Pop quiz, hotshot: There's a bomb on the trolley. If the trolley's speed drops below 50mph the bomb will go off. Some utilitarian jackass just pushed a big fat dude off a bridge right in front of the trolley. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO!?
posted by rusty at 8:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


I figure a spectacle like that would be a great distraction. I bet no one's paying attention to their pockets/purses. For I am the great Lupin, master burglar of Par-ee!
posted by LD Feral at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


a black man who's good looks come from his honest, simple nature and is on the bridge to rescue a kitten

What if the black man is on a horse?
posted by The Bellman at 8:25 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Conservatives accepted collateral damage more easily if the dead were Iraqis than if they were Americans, while liberals accepted civilian deaths more readily if the dead were Americans rather than Iraqis.

I'm going to totally go out on a limb here and guess that American casualties would not be more acceptable to liberals if, I don't know, Iraq invaded America. Something something, personal responsibility something?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:31 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


What if the black man is on a horse?

The orchestra can PLAY MUSIC to charm the kitten off the bridge, so he needs to GIVE HORSE TO TEST SUBJECT and TELL TEST SUBJECT PUSH HORSE. Then, to get the orchestra onto the bridge, he needs to...

TYRONE HAS BEEN EATEN BY A GRUE.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:38 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


> The example is so unlikely in the real world, and the likelihood that the fat man would actually give valid information so low, that the scenario is bunk.

Exactly my thoughts. I answered that torture was always morally wrong, partly for the very reason that it doesn't work. The fourth scenario essentially redefines what torture is, and then calls me inconsistent for choosing to do it. It's like they said "What about if you could torture this guy, but it wouldn't hurt him, and everybody in the room gets free beer?" Well, then yeah, I guess so.
posted by Turd Ferguson at 8:41 AM on September 28, 2010 [9 favorites]


clearly the only way to solve this problem is to treat it like an old adventure game.
posted by The Whelk at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2010


In a related question: has anyone ever met anyone named Chip?
posted by arnicae at 8:45 AM on September 28, 2010


Do you make up these questions, Mr. Holden? Or do they write 'em down for you?
posted by prinado at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Turd Ferguson: I just ignored the "it has a 75% chance of making him reveal the bomb's location..." bit, because yeah, making up a special definition of torture is bullshit.

But of course I said don't torture him anyway, because the morality of torture isn't related to the utility (or lack of utility) of it. It's more an issue of whether you can accomplish good by doing wrong, which I don't think you can. So even if they posited a 100% chance of torture working, I still would say don't do it. Morally.

Practically, of course, in that situation, if there really was a 100% sure way of gaining the information by hurting the bomber? Of course I'd do it. It would be immoral, and I'd have to live with that, but I imagine being the dude who saved a city from nuclear annihilation would be a comfort.

I think these hypothetical tests fail to distinguish between someone's view of the morality of an action, and their willingness to accept performing an immoral act under some circumstances.
posted by rusty at 8:49 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


arnicae: A friend of mine has a cousin named Chip. So yes. I also know a Bridge and someone whose name is pronounced (though not, I think, spelled) eBay.
posted by rusty at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2010


There's a bomb on the trolley. If the trolley's speed drops below 50mph the bomb will go off. Some utilitarian jackass just pushed a big fat dude off a bridge right in front of the trolley. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO!?

call keanu reeves
posted by pyramid termite at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to know that I, as a white man, have less value to some people than a black man.

That somehow, on some level, they think I deserve to DIE.

Not because of racism, per se. Oh no. It's more complex than that. If it were racism, I could understand why someone was being a jackass. I wouldn't agree. But I could see why. You're a jackass. End of story.

But I have to die ... why exactly? Because my invisible knapsack makes it less problematic for you to see me ripped to pieces?

You know. The knapsack? The one I didn't ask for? The one I don't even remember using? The one I don't even know I had in the first place? The one, as a first-generation Irish immigrant, I never had.

JOSH
I'd love to give you the money, I really would, but I'm a little short on cash. You see the SS officer forgot to give my grandfather his wallet back when he let him out of Birkenau.

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I wonder what would happen if they said, "Piglet A comes from the largest population of pink piglets in the country and Piglet B with Dalmatian spots comes from a population of cute spotted piglets that is 1/3 the size of the population of the pink piglets. If you kill Piglet A, you will save 100 of Piglet B's relatives. If you kill Piglet B, you will save 10,000 of Piglet A's relatives. Both piglet populations are cute but there are tons more Piglet A than the rarer Piglet B."

I want to save all the Dalmation piglets.
posted by anniecat at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2010


Cornell psychologist David Pizarro

I love his cartoons.
posted by John Cohen at 8:56 AM on September 28, 2010


Because my invisible knapsack makes it less problematic for you to see me ripped to pieces?

wait - couldn't you just fill your invisible knapsack full of bricks and throw it in front of the train?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Possibly the OP was being ironic, in which case, you know, write this comment off as humorless grumpiness. That's fine. But damn that phrase pisses me off.

The OP (me) was, in fact, being ironic in this case, though I realized that irony may not translate well in post titles immediately after submitting it. But point taken on the poverty of the phrase 'liberal guilt.'
posted by googly at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2010


Your mama is so fat, she could effectively serve as the crux of a hypothetical designed to test people's disposition toward deontological or consequentialist moral systems.
posted by barrett caulk at 9:02 AM on September 28, 2010 [46 favorites]


It's interesting to know that I, as a white man, have less value to some people than a black man.

I think it's hard to see the characters in a fictional story as people. You're being asked to go on so little. What if all the members of the Philharmonic were made up of sex offenders or the KKK? That isn't well written at all. If you started giving more background about both, then maybe there would be a change. If you knew more about the individuals playing for the Philharmonic, then there would be a chance.

Which is why this isn't reality and white people can't use it as proof that liberals and minorities hate them. The killing whitey bit is inflammatory and poor journalism.

Furthermore, the conservatives undervalue minorities. So everyone has an equal chance of being disliked by someone for the color of their skin.

What would happen if Tyrone's Philharmonic people were all disabled? Or if the members of the Chips Jazz group were all veterans or orphans? What if you could either save a hundred six week old kittens or a hundred people of no discernible race?
posted by anniecat at 9:03 AM on September 28, 2010


That's a pretty different interpretation of the study than I (a "whitey") reached, Cool Papa Bell. Here's the actual results:
Conceptually replicating Study 1a, liberals (1 SD below the mean) were more likely to endorse a consequentialist justification when Chip was sacrificed than when Tyrone was sacrificed, b = −.19, SE = .08, t = 2.43, p = .02. More conservative participants (1 SD above the mean) did not give reliably different endorsements of consequentialism for Chip and Tyrone, b = .05, SE = .08, t = .61, p = .54.
Ignoring for the moment that I have no clue WTF "Conceptually replicating" means besides "fudging my results", these results show NOT that liberals think white people "deserve" to die, but that we think there is a higher test for sacrificing black people than for sacrificing white people.

I'm surprised the "race" of the participants in the study were not analyzed. It seems extremely plausible to me that, say, Black liberals would be more willing to sacrifice Tyrone and save Chip, but that this wasn't captured due to sampling issues.
posted by muddgirl at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think this is a cognitive test, not a morality test or consistency test. It's not about what would you do or choose in a situation, because nobody knows that (as people have said.)

It's about the difference between the way you see yourself and the way you are, the difference between your beliefs and the lies we may tell ourselves, or the way you think you would answer and the way you answer.
posted by acheekymonkey at 9:05 AM on September 28, 2010


Or what anniecat said.

Also, I wish there was an edit window. Replace "extremely plausible" with "hypothetically plausible".
posted by muddgirl at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2010


Back off, man -- I'm a scientist.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 9:06 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Practically, of course, in that situation, if there really was a 100% sure way of gaining the information by hurting the bomber? Of course I'd do it. It would be immoral, and I'd have to live with that, but I imagine being the dude who saved a city from nuclear annihilation would be a comfort.

That's kind of always been my take too. The hypothetical where the torture somehow provides accurate timely vital information isn't realistic but even if you rig the hypothetical parts so that you know that it will work 100% and save millions of lives it doesn't change the wrongness of the torture. It just means that someone has to stand up, do the job, and then turn themselves in to face the required consequences of doing the torture. The apologizers for torture like to pretend that the hypothetical surety exists and then on top of it absolve the performer of any consequences. A true patriot would see the necessity of the dirty job and then accept the legal consequences for being the one to fill that need.

Of course our hypothetical patriot is spared this decision as the 100% surety of accurate, timely information does not exist. In fact the application of torture makes the accuracy of received information go down, not up.
posted by Babblesort at 9:08 AM on September 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


That somehow, on some level, they think I deserve to DIE.

Only in a highly complex and almost unbelievable hostage/terrorist situation where your death would save others.

Otherwise you're cool.
posted by nomadicink at 9:08 AM on September 28, 2010


Only in a highly complex and almost unbelievable hostage/terrorist situation where your death would save others.

Well, no. The study is lasering in how race affects decisions about morality. And the study seems to be suggesting that there's a certain class of people that view "white males" as seemingly being so ... so ... privileged, I guess ... that it's OK to discriminate against them. As if to say, "Well, he's already been so privileged up until now, we can deny him an additional privilege."

It's like ...

Women and children first. I get that. Protect the species, protect the weak and innocent. Don't have to tell me twice.

Tax the rich. I get that. We can do the math and have a progressive tax. Gotta pave the roads. Kick ass.

Don't be racist. I get that. Overcome thousands of years of bad culture and try to be colorblind. Got it.

Kill the white guy, though, because he's had it easy.

Wait, what?

How do you know I had it easy? You can see the invisible knapsack?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if the black man is on a horse?

Obviously the kittens are now DIAMONDS.
posted by elizardbits at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's not about race. There are enough philharmonics in the world. We need more jazz.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:33 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chip is not only white, and not only wealthy. He's wealthy by inheritance, and so hasn't even had to work to get his status.

That's quite an elaborate backstory that you constructed from a name.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:34 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Babblesort: I'm actually not even talking about legal consequences -- I can't really imagine a society where the guy who saved millions by applying torture faced legal censure for it. I'm talking about the internal consequences -- the knowledge that you did wrong and have to live with it.

Let me change the scenario to make my thinking a little clearer: Say that a terrorist has planted a nuclear bomb yadda yadda. The bomber then shot himself in the head. Messily. Now the only person who knows where the bomb is is the bomber's entirely innocent 6 year old child, because the child has seen the map with the bomb's location marked on it. You know, for sure, that the child's memory contains this information, and you also have a well-nigh miraculous technology that can extract memories from human brain tissue (but the bomber's brain is a total unusable mess at this point).

The problem is that the memory-extractor can only do its thing on a brain that is removed from the still-living person who formerly owned it.

So, you have to kill an innocent child to save all those other people. I would do it, but I would also know it was wrong and have a hell of a time living with having done it.
posted by rusty at 9:34 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, you have to kill an innocent child to save all those other people. I would do it, but I would also know it was wrong and have a hell of a time living with having done it.

Interesting, I would do it, thinking it was completely fucked up and horrible, but not wrong, 'cause hey, you're saving a million lives.
posted by nomadicink at 9:39 AM on September 28, 2010


The Should You Kill The Fat Man test is interesting.

I think I have a problem with its phraseology-- I think that it is always immoral to torture or kill people who do not wish these things done to them, but that doesn't mean that I don't believe in a lesser-evil approach to moral conundrums. It just means that I feel that an action's being the lesser evil does not remove its evilness.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:41 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I also find this test to be flawed but....I don't know. Some people get bogged down in details that have nothing to do with what the test is trying to measure.

Of course it's true that torture is not a reliable means to get information, but that's not what the test is trying to get at or understand, none of these are scenarios are remotely possible in real life, but you can play still play along.

I used to have this book called "The Book of Horrible Questions." It was supposed to be a fun party-book, with hypotheticals that would ask you like, for $20 million dollars, would you be willing get your body shaved and your foot amputated, and then have said foot surgically attached to your tailbone and travel the world for a year in the circus as "Billy the butt-footed boy (or girl)." When the year was up, you got the money and were "free to do all the corrective surgery you wish."

I loved this book and I would bust it out in social situations for a laugh. Some people would respond with a laugh and then think for a second (my answer: yes!), but others didn't find any humor in the question and would immediately express their annoyance and ridiculous hypotheticals, or start outlining the problems, issues, or implausibilities within the questions, when the whole situation is implausible to begin with.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess.
posted by mreleganza at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


nomadicink: I would do it, thinking it was completely fucked up and horrible, but not wrong, 'cause hey, you're saving a million lives.

Which is a perfectly reasonable Utilitarian viewpoint. It's not the one I subscribe to myself, but it's not an illegitimate view.
posted by rusty at 9:44 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously, is anyone even named or nicknamed "Chip" anymore?
posted by blucevalo


My stepbrother was nicknamed Chip. My stepfather's name is Alvin. You see where this is going, no?
posted by workerant at 9:54 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


You see where this is going, no?

You've got a stepnephew in a monastery?
posted by griphus at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Kill the white guy, though, because he's had it easy.

You're assuming that choice was made out of thinking and constructing identities. Chip Ellsworth III signals wealth and privilege. It doesn't even say he's white, we just assume it. If it were Seamus O'Malley, a 16 year old Irish immigrant vs. Chip Ellsworth III, a 26 year old at a fancy prep school, then maybe we'd get rid of Chip again. He would say, how do you know I've had it easy? You could even write down that Chip's been in rehab for alcoholism and drug abuse four times and that his mother was abusive. I think people would still save Seamus. This isn't about disliking Chip, it's about finding Tyrone and Seamus as a more interesting ideas comparatively.
posted by anniecat at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're related to a series of cartoon chipmunks?
posted by shakespeherian at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're on a bridge, walking along on the concrete, when all of a sudden you look down...
You look down and see a Tyrone, Chip. He's crawling toward you...
You reach down and you throw Tyrone off the bridge Chip.
posted by MikeMc at 9:59 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This study causes uncomfortable questions about moral reasoning. Let's mock it!
posted by christonabike at 10:04 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're related to a series of cartoon chipmunks?
posted by shakespeherian


Only by marriage.
posted by workerant at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


For all the complainers arguing the Fat Man scenario is too unrealistic: It's a f'n hypothetical man! Accept the premise and get down to examining yourself. Claiming you can't make the choice because you don't believe the situation could occur is just lazy.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:06 AM on September 28, 2010


This study causes uncomfortable questions about moral reasoning.

I don't find them uncomfortable at all. Just poorly reasoned, given the actual data. There's a lot of "it's possible X, but it's also possible Y" in the conclusions.
posted by muddgirl at 10:07 AM on September 28, 2010


OK Popular Ethics, here's one:

Would you shoot the disabled orphan of a WWII veteran who will grow up to cure cancer, if it prevents that orphan from murdering a beautiful unicorn who will also grow up to, like, stop Hitler II?

Accept the premise and get down to examining yourself!
posted by muddgirl at 10:09 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


How does the beautiful unicorn stop Hitler II? Does he sit on the unicorn's head by accident?
posted by shakespeherian at 10:11 AM on September 28, 2010


Would you shoot the disabled orphan of a WWII veteran who will grow up to cure cancer, if it prevents that orphan from murdering a beautiful unicorn who will also grow up to, like, stop Hitler II?

How sort of of atrocities does Hitler 2.0 commit? Gotta know that before deciding where to play this level or use a cheat.
posted by nomadicink at 10:12 AM on September 28, 2010


I understand what this question is getting at, but it makes me mad that you're given 100% absolute knowledge. Humans almost never have (outside of their own mistaken assumptions) 100% correct knowledge of a situation with a moral decision. If I'm standing on that platform in real life, I have the nagging suspicion that I might be wrong about pushing the fat man onto the tracks, which to me is the interesting moral issue - how do you act when you think you should do something, but are uncertain of the outcomes?
posted by codacorolla at 10:14 AM on September 28, 2010


If the trolley's speed drops below 50mph the bomb will go off.

I call it... The Trolley That Couldn't Slow Down
posted by Michael Pemulis at 10:15 AM on September 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I know one currently (he's about 40), and knew a couple in college. Also a Trip and a Trey.
posted by rtha at 12:44 PM on September 28 [+] [!]


I think we went to the same college, cause all three of those guys were in my fraternity!
posted by matty at 10:17 AM on September 28, 2010


For these sorts of moral quizzes, I always use the Chechnyan terrorist scenario:
Ten terrorists are holding fifty innocent hostages in a theatre. The terrorists are armed with bombs and have the capability to kill everyone including themselves. You could prevent them from detonating the bombs by gassing the building, but you're likely to kill x% of the hostages in the process. Do you use the gas?

This one opens another can of worms, but I've found it divides people up pretty evenly, and not necessarily along their normal deontological/utilitarian preferences. The thesis that we self-justify when choosing moral codes thus resonates with me. Or maybe the gassers just hate Muslims. I don't know.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:18 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


100%. wow! Who knew I had such consistent morals? I sure didn't.

I am however amazed by the results of the first question. 86% would have flipped the switch and killed the one guy to save the 5 on the tracks. Let's look at that one again, shall we?

There are five people on the track ahead of the train.
Well, what are they doing there?

There is no way that they can get off the track before the train hits them. The track has a siding leading off to the right, and Casey can hit a button to direct the train onto it. Unfortunately, there is one person stuck on the siding.
Hmmm...sounds like he's out of the way of oncoming train traffic and he's stuck and couldn't move even if he wanted to.

Should he turn the train (1 dead); or should he allow it to keep going (5 dead)?
Let's see. One guy minding his own business, not causing any trouble, versus 5 dumbasses playing on the train tracks in front of an oncoming train. They're somewhere they're not supposed to be, fuck em! I'm certainly not going to kill some random stranger to save them if they're too stupid to stay off the tracks.
posted by ValkoSipuliSuola at 10:19 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pop quiz, hotshot: There's a bomb on the trolley. If the trolley's speed drops below 50mph the bomb will go off. Some utilitarian jackass just pushed a big fat dude off a bridge right in front of the trolley. What do you do? WHAT DO YOU DO!?

I believe it rhymes with feral bowl.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:23 AM on September 28, 2010


The only Tyrone I know in real life is white. I'd definitely push him off. Not because of his colour, though. Because he's a bastard.
posted by Decani at 10:25 AM on September 28, 2010


mudgirl: Would you shoot the disabled orphan of a WWII veteran who will grow up to cure cancer, if it prevents that orphan from murdering a beautiful unicorn who will also grow up to, like, stop Hitler II?

Heh. Fair enough. But constructing a good moral quiz is difficult. If you err too far on the side of specificity, then people tend to look for "easy outs" in the details (like the socio-political circumstances of my previous example). A good quiz will have enough abstraction to allow researchers to concentrate on one aspect of the decision without being so far out that the consequences don't resonate with the participants.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:26 AM on September 28, 2010


Okay so 10 terrorists have 50 hostages, each of which has 7 children and 2 dogs, but 65% of the dogs have rabies and will kill 2 people each. Each terrorist has a 5% chance of having the right blood type to save the lives of 9 hostages who currently need a transfusion. However, of the 9 transfusions, 1 will give the hostage AIDS, which he will spread to 8 people in 6 years. You have 4 grenades, each of which will kill 2 terrorists and 1 hostage. You also have 8 bullets but your accuracy is 40%. In exactly 30 minutes, poison gas will kill 500 evil train conductors, each of whom are trying to run over 40 civilians tied to train tracks (if the conductors die, these civilians will live). 1 of the terrorists has the ability to stop the poison gas. You are in a building 12 miles away and have 3 dimes, which is not enough to make a phone call.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Should You Kill The Fat Man test is interesting.

I got 100% on moral consistency. They did point out that it was "interesting" that I believed torture was never justified but that I also believed innocent people should be saved if it did not lower total human happiness.
They seem to have forgotten that opening the gateway to a society where torture is acceptable lowers everybody's human happiness. Stupid philosophy geeks.

Also....

I knew a Colson "Chip" Whitehead at Harvard. Yep, he's black.
posted by vacapinta at 10:28 AM on September 28, 2010


You people are all thinking too small. I've constructed this giant, telepathic squid...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:31 AM on September 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


But constructing a good moral quiz is difficult. If you err too far on the side of specificity, then people tend to look for "easy outs" in the details

I think that's my problem with the "Fat Man" scenario and the "torture a terrorist" scenario. Both of them are so unnecessarily specific and yet demand answers that are so general that I find them meaningless when it comes to actual moral "consistency".
posted by muddgirl at 10:34 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


shakespeherian exactly. Too many details ruins the quiz too. Of course constructing any quiz assumes that we can enumerate the forces guiding one's moral compass. Unfortunately I've come to believe most people can't understand why they choose things. They just go with their gut (and get angry at you for making their gut feel queezy over a hypothetical fat guy).
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:39 AM on September 28, 2010


Tyrone's an Irish name. I don't associate it with African-Americans.

And my opinion carries more weight because I'm Irish- AND African-American.
posted by Eideteker at 10:42 AM on September 28, 2010


I understand what this question is getting at, but it makes me mad that you're given 100% absolute knowledge. Humans almost never have (outside of their own mistaken assumptions) 100% correct knowledge of a situation with a moral decision. If I'm standing on that platform in real life, I have the nagging suspicion that I might be wrong about pushing the fat man onto the tracks, which to me is the interesting moral issue - how do you act when you think you should do something, but are uncertain of the outcomes?

Yes, but that doesn't mean we need to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The uncertainty of the outcome would weigh your decision, but that's not what they are studying. They are studying the consistencies of people's moral decisions when certain assumptions about race are put into the mix (however flawed they might have been in executing such a study).

A question to the people who reject this question on its face: Would you contend that hypothetical moral conundrums only have academic merit if they are real-life plausible?
posted by mreleganza at 10:46 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


ValkoSipuliSuola: Let's see. One guy minding his own business, not causing any trouble, versus 5 dumbasses playing on the train tracks in front of an oncoming train. They're somewhere they're not supposed to be, fuck em! I'm certainly not going to kill some random stranger to save them if they're too stupid to stay off the tracks.

I love your comment for it's ideological consistency and simultaneously hate the ease to which you assign blame to vulnerable people. Your answer is more effective at making my question myself than the question was. Nicely done.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:47 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The Should You Kill The Fat Man test is interesting."

That site reminded me of the Wishing Well sketch from Mr. Show (continues here). I kept expecting someone to whisk away a curtain at the end, revealing that the site itself was being judged the whole time. Really, consistency is the most important thing for morality? Based on what? According to who? The site is (actually) begging the question.
posted by Eideteker at 10:47 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would do nothing and by doing nothing I would avoid any accusations of racism and/or murder. Or I would borrow Grangousier's dragon.
posted by MikeMc at 11:03 AM on September 28, 2010


My favourite bit in The Jerk is when the phonebook-using serial killer vents his considerable rage against his chosen target: RANDOM son-of-a-bitch!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:12 AM on September 28, 2010


He really hates these cans! Stay away from the cans everyone!
posted by rusty at 11:21 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see no one has attempted to answer my moral dilemma yet. Conclusion: You are all assholes.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2010


Chip is not only white, and not only wealthy. He's wealthy by inheritance, and so hasn't even had to work to get his status.

That's quite an elaborate backstory that you constructed from a name.


That was my point. The names were chosen to imply a backstory, but the intention was that the backstory would be race, and only race. Why should it? A name like 'Chip Ellsworth III' is such a caricature of a 'white' name that you're encouraging all kinds of additional stereotyping that may well drown out the effects of racial bias.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 11:22 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see no one has attempted to answer my moral dilemma yet. Conclusion: You are all assholes.

I live in New York City where payphone calls still cost 25¢, thus invalidating your entire premise.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 11:29 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe I would shoot the fat man and take his wallet because everyone would be paying too much attention to the train wreck to notice the dead fat guy on the bridge. He probably has a lot of money on him because he's fat and he has to constantly keep buying food to shovel into his gaping maw. Oh, and then I climb down from the bridge and pretend to be aiding the victims of the train wreck while I go through their pockets and and strip the dead of their jewelry. I split the proceeds with Chip because he saw the whole thing and he's a compulsive gambler who blew through his trust fund and owes a bookie big money so he'll keep his mouth shut for a cut of the proceeds. Tyrone gets nothing because the cops wouldn't believe him anyway.
posted by MikeMc at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I live in New York City where payphone calls still cost 25¢, thus invalidating your entire premise.

Your residency in New York City upholds my All Assholes hypothesis.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:35 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I have a "IV" after my name, and it's just about the only thing I inherited from my (black) father. Maybe it's better cause I'm not a "Chip?"
posted by Eideteker at 11:50 AM on September 28, 2010


How do you know I had it easy? You can see the invisible knapsack?

White privilege doesn't mean that white people have it easy. It means that white people gain advantages simply for being white in a white supremacist society.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 AM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ten terrorists are holding fifty innocent hostages in a theatre. The terrorists are armed with bombs and have the capability to kill everyone including themselves. You could prevent them from detonating the bombs by gassing the building, but you're likely to kill x% of the hostages in the process. Do you use the gas?


I use the gas, then I have my soldiers go in and shoot any survivors in the head. Including the hostages.

If the terrorists know that, not only am I not going to negotiate, but I'll kill everyone in the room, there isn't any point in them taking any more hostages, is there? By sacrificing 50 hostages now, I save far more in the future.

[If you think about it, it's kinda a logical extension of post 9/11 hijacker dynamics: pre 9/11, you obey the hijacker and hope to negotiate a rescue; post 9/11 you know they don't want hostages, just bodies, so you might as well fight back]
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:22 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I see no one has attempted to answer my moral dilemma yet. Conclusion: You are all assholes.

NTSFO;ITOWTBS.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:14 PM on September 28, 2010


White privilege doesn't mean that white people have it easy. It means that white people gain advantages simply for being white in a white supremacist society.

So, I still deserve to die, right? And on some level, that's OK? I'm expected to be more resilient, and my wife/kids are expected to be more resilient about potentially losing a husband/father ... because I might have had advantages in life? And I'm the only one that finds this a little, you know, bothersome?

This reminds me of a joke about a man accused of murder defended by the world's worst attorney.

"Listen," the attorney says. "They got you on videotape killing that guy. Your fingerprints are on the gun. There are lots of witnesses. They even found the letter where you said you wanted to kill him."

The attorney goes on. "The judge we got is a real mean old coot," he says. "And the prosecutor is real smart. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- is pushing for the death penalty on this case.

The attorney thinks a bit, scratches his head.

"You know," he says. "I think you should just take it."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:37 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Feel free to continue your little fit, Cool Papa Bell, despite the various attempts at actually explaining what the study says.
posted by muddgirl at 1:44 PM on September 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


anniecat: Furthermore, the conservatives undervalue minorities. So everyone has an equal chance of being disliked by someone for the color of their skin.

Disliked, disregarded, disbelieved, discarded. No one should experience it so regularly that it becomes a background "this is the way this world is, you get used to it." Most of the people I know who do experience it that regularly got used to the sting way back in childhood. Scar tissue grows thick. Makes it easier to shrug at, but I do think about how much more constructively the energy that went to deal with that shit all those years could have been applied.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:06 PM on September 28, 2010


Feel free to continue your little fit, Cool Papa Bell, despite the various attempts at actually explaining what the study says.

Feel free to swing at and miss the point again.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:49 PM on September 28, 2010


I wouldn't kill the Fat Man. Not for of a moral quandary, but more because of my appreciation for video game music of the 80s and 90s.
posted by ostranenie at 4:59 PM on September 28, 2010


These always bother me because, like others have said, they seem to ignore the possibility that I might think something is immoral and do it anyway. Sorry :(
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:10 PM on September 28, 2010


Cool Papa Bell, you seem to be arguing that it is bad that people are reflexively more willing to kill a white person than any other type.

That is a reasonable conclusion. But it's not clear that the study says that. Calling it the "kill whitey" study seems to be something the author made up to make it more shocking.

Now, please read the rest of the thread.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:57 PM on September 28, 2010


One problem with this scenario is that is has too much of a cartoon slapstick quality about it, like that Simpsons episode with the out-of-control monorail where Homer considers throwing Bart out the door to use as an anchor, so you can't really take it seriously. It's more of a joke than some kind of horrible moral dilemma. If you were really in a situation like that, standing next to a fat man (of any race) and the pair of you saw a trolley lumbering by underneath carrying the occupants to their deaths, throwing him off the bridge to stop it just wouldn't pop into your head. You'd just think it was a terrible tragedy and you were powerless to prevent it.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:01 PM on September 28, 2010


I fully expected this to be about a certain mobstah from Southie.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:15 PM on September 28, 2010


You're being hoodwinked. The solution is: "run the train off the tracks, attack it with lasers!!!"
posted by simms2k at 8:45 PM on September 28, 2010


You're being hoodwinked. The solution is: "run the train off the tracks, attack it with lasers!!!"

James T. Kirk would have snuck in the the night before and re-routed the train to a parallel track.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:50 PM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I dunno. If the train were to go off the tracks I'd pick it up pick it up pick it up.
posted by Snyder at 5:57 AM on September 29, 2010


I tell you what I'd do, I'd prance around going "omigod omigod omigod omigod".
posted by Galaxor Nebulon at 6:56 AM on September 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Wait, I'm a fat man. Why don't I just stop the train myself with my bulk? Or better yet, call Denzel and Chris Pine? (Have these jokes been made already? I'm trying to relax between stressful projects at work.)
posted by Eideteker at 11:52 AM on September 29, 2010


Surely the right answer is something like

"Trolley? What's that?"

or

"What bridge? Why am I standing on it?"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:35 PM on September 30, 2010




wrong thread
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:18 PM on October 21, 2010


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