06 April 2012

Same old songs



There's a ton of interesting elements to this, but a couple big ones.
1) Conservatives are better than liberals at a version of ideological turing tests. This isn't that surprising where it is understood that conservatives use a wider variety of moral dimensions (things like disgust and in-group loyalty for instance) that liberals tend to use much less, if at all. It is however surprising where they then disagree with liberals on some issues. I suspect this has to do with the stronger in-group loyalties of BOTH groups.
2) The relationship between secular versions of religion to religion. Things like patriotism and nationalism are very, very much like religious institutions, and our political institutions also take on their forms. There's just a different item in the "god" slot. This is probably why I find more common agreement with this sort of assault on religious institutions than on simply disapproving of the whole god aspect to them. Which is by itself a pretty painless delusion. This I also might explain why I find nationalism in particular and patriotism at some level to be offensive and damaging in the same ways that religion can be abused against "others", and why I find something like the Reagan worship of conservatives and especially the rewriting of the Reagan myth to suit new political goals to be disturbing.

All of this comes out of the theories of evolutionary psychology, and it's not surprising to me that they would evolve on very similar lines as a result. One aspect that I think Haidt has a problem here is that there seems to be an empathy gap resulting from the "teams" relationship that politics, and religion, and others take on. This gap often takes a LOT more than mere common ground associations to overpower. Or at least, that is, that while that gap might be closed between friends or families, but extending that gap to others who share the same differences that friends or family members do takes more work.
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