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  1. #31
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    @Lark: I don't know if you're an idealist/metaphysical person who believes the physical world and the spiritual world (or parts of them) are divorced from one another. I do not for the most part. That is what I was trying to address. I know you see the interconnection between the heart, mind, and society/finances etc, but for me I must admit it is about other things too. I like ideas in transhumanism for example and believe that as we evolve we'll probably begin to recognize non-human persons and treat inanimate objects (like the earth, etc) as deserving respect. I think this is the only way to create a truly sustainable universe. Also, I suspect that we may disagree on particular moral issues. For example, I think good and evil tend to be experience related and that oftentimes "evil" though not being necessary helps us to grow and I see the universe/god as being beyond good and evil and it allows bad things to happen not intentionally, but because it is not aware of the consequences. These new relationships are allowed to continue and the impact felt so that a new holistic way of being that is more representative can be achieved. Once this happens the cycle starts all over again. This is why I like ideas like retrocausality to reference the past discussion we had on memory. There are certain interpretations of quantum physics that allow for cancelling of information retrocausally. I think this can become the metaphorical heaven where every tear is dried etc. Then again I come from a Christian background as well so that particular symbolism holds a special appeal for me that it may not for others.

    To OP sorry for derailing your thread. It seemed like you were done with it though :p
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  2. #32
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    A lot of those ideas sound derivative of Nietzsche, beyond good and evil, eternal recurrence etc. Not saying that's were you got them, they are in the cultural milleau of the west more or less since his day and he coined the phrases.

    I dont believe those things, I also dont like ideas like transhumanism, the singularity seems like a monsterous thing, that we all become appendages of the machine "life" like the Borg, I dont think that would be good at all.

  3. #33
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    The reason I say all this is -not- to justify terrible things or to create an übermensche or to create another hitler, etc. I believe that morality is about relationships and about building networks of life. I think as you do that you come into conflict with alternative life giving or sustaining networks based upon where you're at now. It's like that thread with spur geon (don't want him to invade this convo). You and I both see the flaws in his approach, but we relate/sympathize with him because we have some commonalities of experience. There is no doubt that he believes he is doing the "right" thing. He will continue on his path until he learns to integrate that personal experience with other people's so that he can grow and start doing -more- of the right thing. I believe that I am on this journey as well, so are you, so is everyone. It is a continual process that does not end. Along the wat we receive new information we encounter people whose experience in a particular area is so beyond ours or that was gotten in bad ways that we have a reaction viscerally of anathema. But, what they do now does work. Not only that it works better. So we begin to test and grow and try to find a way to take it in, but along the way we make huge blunders and -take the risk- of harming others. Hopefully, along the way we run into guides who help us on this journey to let it happen in a way that is healthy and loving. But, when we go into new frontiers that have never been explored we have no guide and must do the best we can. I believe that all that singularity etc stuff is happening because we have marginlized people. So they are taking things into their own hands to safeguard their own basic needs or just to create and build something new and beautiful unmarred by the pain of our collective past. If people who care don't step forward then it will be done by those who because of pain, anger, sorrow, or despair have been twisted into something cruel. I personally don't want to let that hapoen. If there is something that I can do to prevent that I will. Whether you do or not is your own choice. But, I see you as basically a good person who takes the time to bring these issues to light because you do care. I do too and that's why I take a pay it forward attitude on this forum and in life. Perhaps that's my purpose, I don't know.

    P.S. well that sounded a bit too epic and aggrandized so now I feel the compulsion to poke fun at myself so I don't take this all OH SO SERIOUSLY and devolve into one of those life sucking trolls lol
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  4. #34
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Another article on US political polarization here (via Andrew Sullivan). Includes this graph:



    I agree with the article (and its conclusions), but I do think measuring conservatism and liberalism over time is a bit difficult. The goalposts are always moving, so what's liberal or conservative is partially contextual, therefore difficult to graph objectively across decades.

    For example, it's pretty clear that today's US conservatives are more conservative than Ronald Reagan in a number of ways, but meanwhile some core current liberal issues (gay rights) weren't even on the radar in the 60s.

  5. #35
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    And my long overdue closing post on the Republican Brain, etc:

    I have since read The Republican Brain by Chris Mooney. Mooney previously wrote The Republican War on Science (clearly not a neutral book), and his pursuit of understanding lead to The Republican Brian. Mooney is definitely biased towards liberals and scientists, but he still sees value on both sides.

    I found The Republican Brain a little eerie as it retraced some of the above works (or other works by the same authors). Mooney starts out by covering familiar ground: how affect precedes and drives reasoning. As Mooney quotes Haidt "We may think we are being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers."

    Mooney covers how motivated reasoning is "identity-protective cognition," but that includes our group identities as well. He notes that individuals may differ in their need to defend beliefs and willingness to change their beliefs, and believes this has to do with in-group solidarity (which should sound familiar, at this point).

    Then Mooney goes out of his way to discredit the notion that there is any such thing as the Enlightenment ideal of pure rational thought. People primarily reason intuitively and emotionally. Expecting facts and logic alone to change people's minds is a losing proposition. It's almost as though our belief systems are physical (and they are, in so far as they have physical wiring in our brains); our brains respond to an attack on identity in a way analogous to a response to a physical attack.

    I like one passage in the book in particular about motivated reasoning:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Republican Brain loc1346
    One team of thinkers—philosopher Hugo Mercier of the University of Pennsylvania and cognitive scientist Dan Sperber of the Jean Nicod Institute in France—suggest an intriguing answer. They’ve proposed that we’ve been reasoning about reasoning all wrong—trying to fix what didn’t need fixing, if we’d only understood what its original purpose was. “People have been trying to reform something that works perfectly well,” writes Mercier, “as if they had decided that hands were made for walking and that everybody should be taught that.” Contrary to the claims of Enlightenment idealists, Mercier and Sperber suggest human reason did not evolve as a device for getting at the objective truth. Rather, they suggest that its purpose is to facilitate selective arguing in defense of one’s position in a social context—something that, we can hardly dispute, we are very good at.
    Mooney goes on to state:

    Quote Originally Posted by The Republican Brain loc1369
    Mercier’s and Sperber’s “argumentative theory of reason” provides a strong case for supporting group reasoning processes like the scientific one, which are built around challenges to any one individual’s beliefs or convictions. These processes may be the only reliable check on our going vastly astray. By the same token, the theory also suggests that if you insulate yourself from belief challenge, you are leaving yourself vulnerable to the worst flaws of reasoning, without deriving any of the benefits of it.
    Mooney also brings up two axis for categorizing people, and people tend to fall into one of two quadrants, as either hierarchical-individualist (conservatives) or egalitarian-communitarians (liberals).

    He then outlines some differences on how these two groups react on being exposed to more information on contentious issues. On climate change, the hierarchical-individualists tended to worry less about climate change the more information they were exposed to (just the opposite of the egalitarian-communitarians, who became more concerned about climate change as they were exposed to more informaiton, just as one would expect).

    What's more surprising is that on issues like nuclear power and fracking, liberals did not become more entrenched in their initial beliefs (against both practices) when they were exposed to new information, but instead became less concerned about both issues in light of new information. In other words, the egalitarian-communitarians changed their minds based on new information that went contrary to their initial belief.

    Mooney goes on cover that a research published in 2003 in Psychological Bulletin (loc 1497). The research found that, in Big Five terms, conservatism is correlated with lower openness and higher conscientiousness. Conservatives tend to try to manage uncertainty and fear by holding onto what is certain and unchanging. Conservatives tend to show less "integrative complexity," over all (which makes sense if one tends to entrench rather than incorporate and synthesize).

    This seems like it casts conservatives in a bad light, but, as Mooney states, those qualities are good or bad depending on the situation. Extended information gathering, nuance, waffling and in-group disagreement (more liberal "virtues") are not what one needs in a crisis. He quotes Jost (one of the authors of the Psychological Bulletin study):

    Quote Originally Posted by The Republican Brian loc1574
    In any case, the joke about liberals—a liberal is somebody who won’t even take his own side in an argument—is not a joke you’d hear about conservatives. Now, I think the qualities of confident assertion of principle and willingness to bend both have their place. One of my meta-beliefs about, well, everything is that one needs to be able to understand both black-and-white situations and shades-of-gray situations. In any case, I think conservatives tend to err toward the black-and-white worldview,and liberals toward the shades-of-gray worldview.

    Mooney then goes onto cover the idea of "integrative complexity" in depth, showing that the difference between liberals and conservatives extends even to simple exercises where conservatives are more willing to jam ambiguous cases into existing categories, even on non-political questions (like whether a given animal is a wild animal or a domestic animal). Liberals tend to be more tolerant of ambiguity and not knowing.

    Mooney covers some of the correlations covered by the above books, such as the correlation between being conservative and scoring high on the SDO scale.

    He then argues, based on other George Lakoff's works, that this makes conservatives more likely to fall into a trap of counter-factual group think. Conservatives tending to be more group-minded and more respectful of authority (not bad qualities on their own) becomes problematic in isolation. Without dissenting in-group voices, conservatives will tend to reinforce biases over time.

    Liberals, meanwhile, have their own fantasy-oriented framework, which is based on the Enlightement idea that people will be swayed by information and reason—which is simply not how human reasoning generally works. In fact, it may be worse than useless given the very human response to threatening information (a response that seems to be more intense for conservatives).

    How to make a liberal act like a conservative

    Amusingly enough, there are a few techniques one can use to make a liberal react like a conservative.

    First, one can make a liberal react more like a conservative by forcing a liberal to multitask, so his or her attention is divided. Liberals then respond more like conservatives, tending to be more biased in their responses.

    Secondly, one can put a liberal under threat (which was covered by some of the books above).

    Thirdly, and most amusingly, you can get a liberal drunk.

    These seem to imply that liberals have the same conservative urges that everyone else has, but other internal systems get engaged after the reaction. So liberal thinking, to some degree, functions as a corrective response that tries to counter-act the original intuitive/emotional bias (and may over-respond in some cases).


    Liberal and scientists

    That difference may help explain why liberals and scientists are more aligned these days than conservatives and scientists. The same Openness trait is fundamental to an empirical approach which stresses curiosity, tolerance of ambiguity and flexibility. Meanwhile, low Openness only becomes more closed once scientists are identified with the "other team," and one's own authority speaks against them, causing in-group loyalty to kick in.


    Fixes

    So, all this (and more I haven't covered) paints a pretty grim picture. Polarization seems to be driving conservatives away from scientific reasoning and makes them more closed and insular over time. Meanwhile, liberals become increasingly frustrated that conservatives are not Open (in the Big Five sense), and try to sway them with more information... which only makes conservatives more entrenched, and liberals more dismissive of conservatives.

    Mooney suggests that liberals and conservatives need to engage in conversations which emphasize shared values. Until you can get past the defensive response of motivated reasoning, facts and information won't help, and are likely to be counterproductive (especially when trying to convince conservatives).

    In an ideal world we could capitalize both on liberal and conservative strengths, by applying the right tools to the right task. There are times when nuanced analysis is appropriate, and time when swift, decisive, unified action is appropriate. The current political polarization makes it unlikely that we are flexibly applying both.


    General weaknesses of these books

    I think all these books suffer a bit from over-generalizing. Why these correlations seem to be real, they don't mean that every authoritarian is a conservative (or vice versa), that every liberal has high Openness and low Conscientiousness, or that the parties are perfectly sorted. It's important to keep in mind that individuals don't seem to be any more politically extreme than they have in the past.

    Plus, some of these books use arguments based on neuroscience and/or social evolution, both relatively young approaches. It's important to keep in mind how easy it is to overgeneralize and to make sweeping conclusions that aren't really supportable by the data we have.

    Where I am

    So, I personally feel like my trek through various books has paid off in small ways. I feel I have gained some additional insight into some of the issues behind polarization. Even when personal empathy fails me, having models like Haidts (and a fundamentalist background) can help remind me of some my blind spots.

    Despite all that, I feel a bit more depressed and helpless about the current state of affairs. From my perspective, the US's winner-take-all, non-proportional systems of government makes it difficult to see a way out of our current political polarization quagmire. Would it take a collapse of one party to reshuffle the political deck? Can smaller things be done to improve discourse?

    However, I know that assuming that current trends continue indefinitely is no way to predict the future. Meanwhile, I try to engage people of other political persuasions where I can, and not regard others as my enemies.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    ...

  7. #37
    Senior Member sculpting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    Sounds kind of like fe vs fi lol
    yes.

  8. #38
    Vaguely Precise Seymour's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orobas View Post
    yes.
    A bit more like SJ vs NP, translating roughly from Big 5 to MBTI.

  9. #39
    Senior Member sculpting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seymour View Post
    A bit more like SJ vs NP, translating roughly from Big 5 to MBTI.
    I suppose I see the argument about SJ/NP in the arguments about deferral to authority, but what I tend to encounter most (in my personal interactions) in republicans is an extreme adherence to being fiscal conservative. And a hell of a strong desire not to be told what to FEEL.

    The decsriptions from the books in the OP, felt like they had a heck of a lot of projection on the part of the authors embedded within thier conclusions as well.

    It might be most useful to reanalyze the conservative vs libral debate, breaking apart the moral conservative republicans from the fiscal conservative republicans. In the same way you could break down the librals into those with a more idalistic vs socialistic bent perhaps.

  10. #40
    Senior Member sculpting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SD45T-2 View Post
    P. J. O'Rourke once proposed (semi-seriosuly) a 4 party system for the United States. One party would be fiscally/economically and socially conservative, sort of like the Republican Party. Another party would be fiscally/economically and socially liberal, like the Democratic Party. The next party would be fiscally/economically conservative and socially liberal (sort of like the Libertarian Party). The 4th party would be fiscally/economically liberal and socially conservative.
    ^^perhaps like this?

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