seeking knowledge and laughter, putting a bullseye on inaccuracy

Our Tribal Politics

Reason is a hard thing, perhaps because so many of us fool ourselves into thinking we have weighed the pros and cons of decisions, of our political choices. But most don't and odds are we are at least some of them.

This article from The Atlantic called "The War on Reason" explores just how rational we are. Consider -

Most of us know nothing about constitutional law, so it’s hardly surprising that we take sides in the Obamacare debate the way we root for the Red Sox or the Yankees. Loyalty to the team is what matters. A set of experiments run by the Stanford psychologist Geoffrey Cohen illustrates this principle perfectly. Subjects were told about a proposed welfare program, which was described as being endorsed by either Republicans or Democrats, and were asked whether they approved of it. Some subjects were told about an extremely generous program, others about an extremely stingy program, but this made little difference. What mattered was party: Democrats approved of the Democratic program, and Republicans, the Republican program.

We are tribal - a quality that served us well as an evolutionary strategy over hundreds of thousands of years. But now we have to work to overcome that if we actually want to live in a pluralistic, democratic society. Thus far, the evidence seems to suggest most people don't want to go to that effort or simply don't understand that they have to if we are going to call our form of government a republic.


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