Can I Ruin Something that Has No Value?

Statement

When I’m asked to respond to a poll, I make up answers because poll results are filled with fake answers anyway.

Q1 Analysis

This is a Q1 violation if you are against casual lying or if you ever rely on polls.

Q2 Analysis

This is a Q2 violation if you would not want someone to interfere with your work because they thought it had no value.

Discussion

This statement can be seen as a self-fulfilling prophecy — you know that polls have false data in them because you insert false data in to polls. The justification is based on the assumption that the poll either already is tainted by false data or will be tainted at a later time, so it doesn’t matter if you add more false data.

But how much of that false data comes from people like you who assume that the poll already has false data? If it is true that some people lie to pollsters for one reason or another, does this imply that there are no questions which most people will answer honestly? Are you sure that false answers are statistically significant, rendering the poll useless? Might professional statisticians know that some questions will not be answered honestly and consider that in their results? Most importantly, why do you choose to answer the pollster’s questions falsely instead of declining to participate?

It is tempting to think that if something is worthless, has no value, or is somehow already "ruined," then you have a lessened moral obligation toward that thing. In which of the below situations do you think your behavior would be morally justified?

You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.

Posted on June 8, 2010 at 10:15 am by ideclare · Permalink
In: 2Q

5 Responses

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  1. Written by ed42
    on June 8, 2010 at 5:48 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    IMO it boils down to “Do not initiate force nor fraud”.

    If this poll was presented by an organization (e.g., religious) that initiated fraud against me or if this poll was presented by an organization (e.g., government) that initiated force against me, then I would feel no remorse in inserting fake information.

  2. Written by Zach
    on June 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    So, you would help ruin a poll if the organization of that poll had “initiated force or fraud” against you? What if people were relying on that poll that had not “initiated force or fraud” against you? Ruining a poll can hurt much more than the organization that conducts it. (Also, I’d be interested in any 2Q or other ethical analysis of the statement “do not initiate force nor fraud, but it is perfectly fine to commit force or fraud against others who had initiated force or fraud against you”, which seems to be the sentiment of this comment.)

    • Written by ideclare
      on June 8, 2010 at 11:16 pm
      Reply · Permalink

      “(Also, I’d be interested in any 2Q or other ethical analysis of the statement “do not initiate force nor fraud, but it is perfectly fine to commit force or fraud against others who had initiated force or fraud against you”, which seems to be the sentiment of this comment.)”

      I think you just did a good hunk of the analysis yourself. Nicely done!

  3. Written by Zach
    on June 9, 2010 at 6:33 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I guess I was thinking more of Gandhi’s (?) “An eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind” in response to what seems like a self-perpetuating cycle of violence which would stem from feeling justified in force/fraud as long as you weren’t the initiator. I’m not sure if or how that would fit in with 2Q, though.

  4. Written by Speak
    on June 11, 2010 at 4:57 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I think most of the above moral question situations all boil down to human apathy, and laziness, desire to take the easiest most followed path. A river already has chemical pollution, so why not just pollute it more to your benefit? because that’s the problem. the endless cycle, and when will it stop if morals do not prevent a person from stopping it? Atheists criticize theists of their violence and intolerance against each other and atheists, but isn’t intolerance for theists the same thing reversed? If the Buddhists in the mall want to do that, and it’s not hurting anyone, why ruin it because of your own intolerance? I could continue but I think you get the point. morals and religion are completely different things, and I have abandoned religion, but morals are still very valuable to me.

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