Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts 3

Aspects of age and gender in mortality transition in Kerala, India

Social Science
This paper aims at studying the process of mortality transition in the state of Kerala in India and what its consequences have been on the age and gender specific mortality rates in the state. It seeks to answer three questions in particular- (a) To what extent have mortality levels changed in Kerala between 1971 and 2013 (b) what are the differences in mortality transition by gender and age between years 1971 and 2013 (c) In what ways have the differences in mortality transition by gender and age impacted Kerala’s overall mortality trend.
Kerala is an important case study because it stands out as a region in the developing world where a fall in mortality levels and high life expectancy were achieved despite a relatively low per capita income and little economic development. In the year 1982 for instance, Kerala’s life expectancy at birth stood at 66 years while its per capita GDP was around $160 which was far less than many countries that had higher levels of mortality (Caldwell, 1986). Panikar (1999) has observed that in 1992, the crude death rate for ‘least developed’ Kerala (6 per 1000) was less than a ‘low income country’ like China and a ‘middle income country’ like the Philippines.
We begin by reviewing prevailing literature on mortality transition in Kerala as well as exploring some of the theories on mortality transition put forth by scholars in the area. We then go on to carry out an age and gender specific mortality rate comparison for years 1971 and 2013 in order to understand to what extend the prevailing literature on mortality transition has captured the age and gender aspects of mortality transition. For this, we use Sample Registration System Data on Age Specific Mortality. We standardize the age specific mortality rates for the two years to the age composition data for Kerala from the Census year 2011.

The Compound Interest of Lies and the Liquidity Crisis in Bengal during the Second Half of the Eighteenth Century

Monish Borah
This paper deals with the issue of trust and the role it played in the economy of the pre-modern world. Throughout human history people have tried to resolve their anxieties over trust by forming institutions. Institutions can be divided into two types- formal and informal, with the former enforcing rules and ensuring rights which have been formally written down and the latter recognising only those rules and rights which are based on customs and traditions. It is a widely held belief amongst economic historians that countries with formal institutions become richer and industrialise faster. The country which is often held up as an example for formal institutions led growth is Britain because it was the first to experience the industrial revolution. This paper questions such conclusions and tries to show that formal institutions held no guarantees against total breakdown in trust especially in the pre-modern /pre-industrial world where technological limitations increased the dangers of information asymmetry. This paper puts forward evidence showing how a breakdown of trust between the Court of Directors of the British East India Company and their Council at Fort William in Bengal, India precipitated a severe liquidity crisis in the said province during the second half of the eighteenth century. The “drain of wealth” theory is used here to show how large amounts of American bullion was first imported into Bengal and then systematically drained out to China before opium became the primary medium of exchange for Chinese products.

Muslim Mass Shooters are Perceived as Less Mentally Ill

Brett Mercier
Psychological Science
Three studies test whether prejudice can influence lay attributions of mental illness to perpetrators of violence. Specifically, we examine whether people with negative attitudes towards Muslims perceive Muslim mass shooters as less mentally ill than non-Muslim shooters. Study 1 uses correlational survey data to compare attributions of mental illness for Muslim and non-Muslim perpetrators of past mass shootings. Studies 2 and 3 experimentally test whether a mass shooter described in a news article is seen as less mentally ill when described as being a Muslim, compared to when described as a Christian (Study 2) and to when religion is not mentioned (Study 3). In all studies, Muslim shooters were seen as less mentally ill than non-Muslim shooters, but only by those with negative views towards Muslims. These findings suggest that those with anti-Muslim prejudices perceive Muslim mass shooters as less mentally ill, likely to maintain culpability and fit narratives about terrorism. This may reinforce anti-Muslim attitudes by leading those with anti-Muslim prejudice to overestimate the amount of violence inspired by groups like ISIS relative to extremist groups from other ideologies.

What’s Wrong Is Wrisky: Moral Intuitions Bias Threat Perception

Daniel Relihan
Psychological Science
Although we may think that we calculate risk based on facts or logic, people more frequently rely on intuitive gut feelings. This investigation examines the hypothesis that moral intuitions affect people’s risk assessment. Moral judgements are often based on intuitions, unless effort is made to override such intuitive feelings. Moreover, people’s prescriptive opinions often affect their descriptive ones, such as when people’s factual beliefs are affected by their moral beliefs. In the current studies, we ask whether this phenomenon generalizes to several real-world risks.

Across four studies using four different samples, we demonstrate that: moral judgments about everyday actions correlated with perceived risk of those actions (Study 1), manipulating people’s moral judgments affected their risk estimates of actions (Study 2), this effect was due to moral condemnation increasing perceived risk rather than judgments of moral goodness decreasing perceived risk (Study 3), and that reliance on moral intuitions for judging threat has real-world applications, such as among voters determining what threats are most pressing to national security and how much funding should be allocated to them (Study 4). Risk assessment is implicated throughout everyday judgments.
People’s biases when it comes to assessing risk likely lead to polarized ideological views and controversies over what constitutes risk, and when and what order of actions are needed as a solution. If moral intuitions shape risk judgments, then different moral intuitions will lead to different perceptions of risk. Indeed, political partisans rely on different moral intuitions, and also fear different threats. For instance, liberals and conservatives differ in how threatened they are by gun violence and illegal immigration, and thus, may focus on drastically different ways to address such issues. The present studies support this explanation in finding that participants conflated what they judged as morally wrong with what they estimated to be risky.

What works (and what doesn’t) in encouraging rejection of fake news online

Rebecca Hofstein Grady
Psychological Science
There is a dangerous and growing spread of misinformation online, such as fake news articles shared on social media. Too often, people uncritically accept and share such information, especially if it’s friendly to their political orientation, and it can be hard to correct this false information once spread. This study tested different types of warnings that could be attached to articles deemed to be false to see which, if any, cause skepticism of fake news headlines, and reduce the difference between articles that are for and against people’s political views. Participants in the study viewed a series of news headlines designed to look like social media posts and rated how accurate they thought they were. Most were true, but a few were entirely made up, and had one of three types of warnings attached to the headlines to tell participants this. In addition, the news stories (both true and false) varied in whether they were friendly to Democrats, friendly to Republicans, or politically neutral. People were much more likely to believe news that supported their political orientation, even when explicitly told the headline was false, and did respond to warnings by lowering their rating of the headlines’ accuracy when told before rating that it was false. However, in a follow-up survey two weeks later, the effect of the warnings had entirely gone away, as people gave high accuracy ratings to headlines they had previously known were false. Even the strongest type of warning was ineffective at reducing belief in the items; 85% of participants believed in the truth of at least one of the three items they were previously explicitly told was entirely false and made up. This talk will explore why such warnings don’t work and what other methods are more effective in encouraging rejection of fake news.

Confucius in Motion: The State, The Kong Family, and The Masses 1966-1980s

Rong Kong
This project concentrates on two simultaneous movements: the anti-Confucius Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), which was spearheaded by Mao Zedong as leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the pro-Confucius Cultural Renaissance Movement launched on Taiwan in 1966 when this island was the last stronghold of Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists. I show how the two competing parties, each of whom claimed to be moving China forward via revolutionary efforts, dealt with the relationship between Confucian virtues and modern life. I examine how state policies shaped the lives and identity formation of ordinary people, particularly those sharing the surname Kong (the last name of Confucius, who is referred to in Chinese as Kong Fuzi), in the course of pro- and anti- Confucius movements and how ordinary people, including the Kongs, reacted to and rechanneled the national campaigns. Based on official documents, family diaries, memoirs, and an oral history project with the Kong family and other local residents of Qufu (the hometown of Confucius) and Taipei, this study illustrates the dynamics of the interactions between the state and the masses and sheds light on the way ordinary people react to identity and cultural conflicts they encounter in the midst of national political movements.

Location: Emerald Bay A Date: April 26, 2019 Time: 3:00 am - 4:30 am