most people passed on accurate gossip and used it for the common good. They rewarded cooperative behavior even when they themselves weren’t directly affected by the behavior.Then in two rounds, participants were given both hard facts and gossip, knowing that they were being given "facts" and told what others participating in the experiment thought. The researchers found that they were 20% more likely to follow the gossip rather than the facts.
The lead author of the study wondered why one would believe the gossip even when you knew the facts, he guessed that "we are just more adapted to listen to other information than to observe people, because most of the time we’re not able to observe how other people are behaving." He may be right, but I still think he needs to get out of the lab more. A week in middle school would have taught him more about gossip and its effects than a stack of hypothetical studies set in a lab environment.
Look at what the Bible has to say about gossip. These are all the verses using the term in the New Living Translation:
Leviticus 19:16"What everybody knows" and reality are not always connected. Look at the odd article also found in the Times that tells how crime is going down in Japan, but sales are up on bizarre disguises (such as a Coke machine and manhole cover) to protect people from danger Fearing Crime, Japanese Wear the Hiding Place.
"Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people. "Do not try to get ahead at the cost of your neighbor's life, for I am the LORD.
They visit me as if they are my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere.
I am the favorite topic of town gossip, and all the drunkards sing about me.
A gossip goes around revealing secrets, but those who are trustworthy can keep a confidence.
A troublemaker plants seeds of strife; gossip separates the best of friends.
A gossip tells secrets, so don't hang around with someone who talks too much.
Just because you see something, don't be in a hurry to go to court. You might go down before your neighbors in shameful defeat. So discuss the matter with them privately. Don't tell anyone else, or others may accuse you of gossip. Then you will never regain your good reputation.
Fire goes out for lack of fuel, and quarrels disappear when gossip stops.
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.
2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that when I come to visit you I won't like what I find, and then you won't like my response. I am afraid that I will find quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfishness, backstabbing, gossip, conceit, and disorderly behavior.
I go back to my earlier statement that gossip travels faster than the speed of accuracy and prefer the proverb above "quarrels disappear when gossip stops" to the reserachers' idea that gossip could have developed as a way to help a group function better. What do you think?
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
a person on the right.
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