Well, the Wile E. Coyote of the New England Institute has struck again, this time with the following talk:
Vomit, Feces and Sin: Disgust Sensitivity and Social CognitionI'm sorry to have missed that one but let me say right off the bat here that I'm sure it was every bit as interesting and informative as it looks. I don't want to be misunderstood on that point: not long after posting some rather skeptical remarks about Garvey's earlier talk I received numerous emails explaining to me that I was being unprofessional, including one that contained a thinly veiled threat to reveal my lack of collegiality to officials at Ohio University. If only some neuropsychologist would undertake to study the aetiology of academic insecurity among the self-styled "Brights", we might be able to make some real progress in the area of "reductive-materialist authoritarianism".
Kilian Garvey, Ph.D.
St, Francis Room, Ketchum Library
University of New England
11 Hills Beach Road
Wednesday, February 6th at 6PM
While it is well established that avoidance of disgusting things (maggots, vomit, feces) is strongly correlated with avoidance of immoral thoughts or behaviors (pedophilia, slavery, dishonesty) the mechanism responsible for this connection is not immediately clear. Does a heightened sense of morality lead to a heightened sense of disgust, or do individual differences in disgust sensitivity result in differential perceptions of what is morally acceptable?
An evolutionary analysis of primary and complex disgusts suggests that the mechanisms used to avoid oral incorporation of pathogenic substances have been drafted to help societies avoid behaviors that unhealthy for the group and that political, social, religious, and artistic preferences are partially determined by evolutionarily selected biological dispositions.