Defending Wrong Acts

What is right and what is wrong? Everyone must have asked this question on ethical matters. Because of my involvement with sustainable seafood  project over the pas 3 years, I have asked myself at least a thousand times, what is the right thing to do? The answer to such question all depends on agenda of the person asking the question, even if scientific evidence from wider perspective points otherwise.

I have often been reminded of a passage on, Contact, a novel by Carl Sagan.  The protagonist, Ellie Arroway, tries to explain about the message coming from the space in scientific way, but the opposing party,  Billy Jo Rankin, has no interest but to explain the message from the space in his own framework, Christianity.

Ever since the  Wedge magazine published an article “Japanese Catch Fish Till All Gone“, the fight back from small band of people who promoted and defended the “Japanese Way” of fishery has been escalating.  These people talk of scientific evidence that does not appear scientific to scientists in other field or in other countries.

With the past 3 years of involvement in this troubling issue that is tied to human control of environmental tied directly to what population of human inhabitants can remain on this earth, I realize that there are so many independent factors that affect the result. But although I am no closer to finding out the answer in how to resolve the seafood sustainability situation, I have become thoroughly fascinated with human behavior of defending what one believes in, even if it becomes common knowledge that that person’s belief is wrong in scientific way.  I did such thing in the past, and I am not sure that I might still not be doing it. Well known historical things are like earth rotating around the sun.  Like notion of one race being superior to another. There were people who defended the wrong ideas, some killing people who believed otherwise even after their idea has scientifically been proven wrong.

As much as I have been formally studying Psychology over the past 2 years, I still have not discovered reasons why people would defend their ideas in the way that would harm great number of people in long term.  What Mahatma Gandhi achieved in resolving conflicts in his days was marvelous and wonderful. Will his method work today in resolving how some Japanese lobbyists and government officials guard the old way of uncontrolled fishing rules?

It would be great to unlock this behavioral trait process and cause from  angles of psychology and bio-psychology.  And to see its affect from overall human history.  As deeply ingrained as we are in this behavior of defending what is wrong, there must have been strong benefit to this, even if it may no longer be valid.


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