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Amorality of Selected Countries
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Pew recently released a report entitled “Global Views on Morality” in which respondents in 40 countries were queried on the morality of eight traditional ‘values’-related issues: Infidelity, gambling, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol usage, divorce, and contraception. Respondents categorized each of them as morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not moral issues at all.

The following table ranks countries by the amorality of their denizens. The percentages who labelled each of the eight issues as not being moral are simply summed for each country:

Country Amorality
1. France 388
2. Canada 353
3. Australia 304
4. Spain 298
5. Great Britain 296
6. United States 269
7. Germany 264
8. Italy 249
9. Greece 219
10. Israel 215
11. Poland 193
12. Japan 182
13. China 177
14. South Korea 172
15. Senegal 170
16. Argentina 163
17. Czech Republic 158
18. Chile 155
18. Mexico 155
20. Lebanon 137
21. Jordan 130
22. South Africa 124
23. Egypt 117
24. Brazil 106
24. Kenya 106
26. Nigeria 104
26. Turkey 104
28. Russia 101
29. Malaysia 98
30. India 94
31. Palestinian territories 92
32. Venezuela 88
33. Bolivia 82
33. Philippines 82
35. El Salvador 68
36. Tunisia 66
37. Uganda 65
38. Indonesia 49
39. Ghana 29
39. Pakistan 29

What Jonathan Haidt terms “WEIRD” societies (read the modern West) tend to the least judgmental, followed by East Asia and the more European nations of Latin America, with sub-Saharan African and Muslim countries the most morally righteous (!). Descartes wept.

Okay, it’s tough to employ the phrase “morally righteous” here without scoffing. These are traditional moral issues whose relevance stretches back millenia into the past–the average Roman living in the reign of Augustus would recognize and have an opinion on all of them as would a builder of the pyramids before him or the subject of the Angevins after him would. A good contemporary SWPL, in contrast, feels that expressing much of an opinion on them is a telltale sign that someone is not a member of the Elect. It evinces a level of cultural sophistication befitting a troglodyte.

The historically novel moral concerns of the Cathedral–most firmly rooted in the West–are quite different, but the Cathedral is scarcely less certain of the rightness of its values than the Caliphate is. In some cases, like infidelity and gambling, it’s not that the Cathedral and the Umma are on opposing sides, it’s that the former doesn’t recognize what the latter does as moral concerns at all. They are merely behaviors people choose to engage in or abstain from. From the Cathedral’s view, there is more morality wrapped up in the question of smoking a cigarette than there is in several of these issues.

Homosexuality is the only real exception among the eight items Pew evaluated, and the homosexual rights movement is largely galvanized by opposition to opposition to homosexuality. It’s anti-anti-gay, as the visceral hate directed at the late Fred Phelps so frequently illustrated, rather than a special fondness for same-sex intimacy that makes the movement attractive.

Parenthetically, the inverse correlation between amorality and total fertility is a moderate .45 (p = .0000000000001). That is, amoral countries do less breeding than morally judgmental countries do. Not surprising, although before running the numbers I would’ve guessed it to be a bit stronger than it appears to be.

(Republished from The Audacious Epigone by permission of author or representative)
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  1. Most of the questions are asking about victimless crimes. It is to some extent a libertarian purity test. Western countries are the most libertarian, and the libertarianism of the other countries corresponds to national IQ, with a extra "penalty" from Muslim countries.

    So, if you're a libertarian, you'd much rather have immigration from Europe and East Asia then any other part of the world.

  2. Wow, so the French really are all Existentialists.

    I find it interesting that debt has basically vanished from even consideration as a moral issue. Many of the justifications for why gambling would be immoral would apply to debt/moneylending as well and the ancients recognized it as such and cautioned against it. These days, though, it's an essential fuel for the economic engine and a rite of passage for unsuspecting high school graduates.

    Lastly, I may be viewing this through Roissy-colored lenses, but it seems like the issues most advantageous to women's independence from responsibility of those with the least moral judgment attached: contraception and divorce lead the way, and alcohol is well known for its effectiveness in disclaiming responsibility for one's actions.

  3. Good point about smoking, by the way. I've noticed that with younger people especially, if you try to light up, all their nonjudgmentalism goes up in a puff of, er, smoke.

  4. Moral relativism and decadence are probably cyclic, like everything else.
    "Everything old is new again"

  5. So, if you're a libertarian, you'd much rather have immigration from Europe and East Asia then any other part of the world.

    That would seem sensible, but I don't hear much of it from the likes of Reason, etc.


    Smoking cigarettes is singled out in such a way that has given me pause on a couple of occasions–once in the same conversation with someone who'd drank too much and driven home alone several miles away. Smoking, in the context, was the more appalling action.

  6. Future post….

    Expect a reference to this… 😉

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