Sunday, April 1, 2012

WEIRD: A Sickness of the Soul

“We lie the loudest when we lie to ourselves.” -Eric Hoffer

“Liberalism is the ideology of American suicide.”  -James Burnham

“It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.” -Jonathan Haidt

The Volokh Conspiracy is on fire lately with a string of fascinating articles. Case in point:

Why Did Legal Elites Underestimate the Case Against the Mandate?

The main factors mentioned for this epic gaffe are:
1) The increasing separation of the legal academy from the practice of law
2) The relative lack of ideological diversity within legal academia.

While whole tomes could be devoted to point #1, what really gripped my attention was point #2 and the link to an article by in Reason Magazine:

What can explain liberals’ widespread failure to anticipate the Court’s wariness of the mandate? Research conducted by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt suggests one possible answer: Liberals just aren’t as good as conservatives and libertarians at understanding how their opponents think. Haidt helped conduct research that asked respondents to fill out questionnaires about political narratives—first responding based on their own beliefs, but then responding as if trying to mimic the beliefs of their political opponents. “The results,” he writes in the May issue of Reason, “were clear and consistent.” Moderates and conservatives were the most able to think like their liberal political opponents. “Liberals,” he reports, “were the least accurate, especially those who describe themselves as ‘very liberal.’”

The Liberal Legal Bubble - Liberals can’t even imagine the opposition’s arguments to ObamaCare's individual mandate.

This view is further buttressed by references to other works posted in the comments of the Volkov Conspiracy piece:

You would do well to read Jonathan Haidt's book--The Righteous Mind. Interestingly, as an avowed liberal, he says that his research indicates that conservatives are much more realistic in their views of life and society. He posits that there are seven 'foundations' which people integrate into their thinking. As he has studied, he says that liberals only understand and accept two of those 'foundations' whereas conservatives have pretty much a level understanding and integration of all seven. That is written from a liberal's (but honest and highly regarded academic). It is very difficult for liberals to understand anything beyond their own suppositions and dismiss everything else without the honesty and perseverance necessary to see the other side. Liberals are 'True Believers' (Hofer).  -Fremont

Haidt's work illustrates the phenomenon of liberal inability to understand conservative/classical liberal argument described in great detail in James Burnham's 1964 Suicide of the West because they simply don't believe anyone who doesn't think like them can be a decent rational human being. Or as the insane, but occasionally brilliant, Anthony J. Hilder quipped in 1967 Liberalism is more than just a mental disease, it is a sickness of the soul....  -Catorenasci

Jonathan Haidt - The Moral Matrix

The Believer - Interview with Jonathan Haidt

WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic)

Neuroanthropology - We agree it’s WEIRD, but is it WEIRD enough?

Last hope for the left - The liberal, secular world view may hold sway over western elites, but it is struggling to answer the conservative challenge

The Weirdest People in the World by Joseph Henrich

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