[Paleopsych] politics and bias

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Fri Mar 4 19:50:06 UTC 2005

Gerry says:
>>Not only does hate speech reduce your IQ it turns 
you into a bumbling idiot.<<

--Indeed it does. Not because it alters intellect, but
because it limits the ability to apply intellect to
polarized contexts. So a person who is perfectly
capable of playing a good chess game may become, as
you say, a bumbling idiot in a context where people
are flinging stereotypes, strawman and other ad
hominem attacks. Herd magnetism is strong, whichever
side of the fence you're on, and few can resist the
political correctness that says "all the extremists
are on THEIR side, while we are reasonable and sane."
The idea that PC exists in liberal academia and
Hollywood alone is nonsense. It's universal, and
nobody can see it on their side because the brain
categorizes ideas along with people,
compartmentalizing ideas and issues artificially to
match social divisions. So it's no longer "I support
issue X" but "I have values". Attaching a party to
abstract virtues (the capital letter ones like
Freedom, Justice, Patriotism, Faith) is insane. It's a
confusion between the map (language) and the territory
(complex social, political and economic realities).
Instead of saying "I believe policy X will have a
beneficial effect on the system" people can say "I
support values and freedom, therefore you must agree
with policy X or you're against cherished ideals".
They don't say it that openly, of course. I wish they

>>Politically the extreme Left and extreme Right meld
on the other side of the circle with their bigotry and
irrational banter.  They hate with equal
intensity....the only difference being the object of
their wrath.<<

--Well said. And it's easy for any party to portray
the other by association with their extremists, while
discounting extremists on its own side. Examples: 

"Christians who are pushy, bullying or violent aren't
REAL Christians. It's the environmentalists and
academics who are extreme."

"Real liberals don't bully people into conforming.
It's religion that does that."

"The real terrorists are the US and Israel.
Palestinians who resort to suicide bombings are only
reacting to the occupation."

"Islam is oppressive and violent. Just look at its
history. Empires under Chrsitianity weren't really
Christian, so it's unfair to saddle Christianity with
a violent history."

"Environmentalists manipulate science to fit their
bias. Corporate-funded scientists may show bias once
in a while, but not like environmentalists."

Such statements, either expressed or implied, are
painfully common. It's a manipulation of the brain's
filtering mechanisms which categorize exceptions to
rules differently depending on whether the exception
sides with one's own group or belief, or an alien
group or belief. Because of that schism in the brain,
we are somewhat schizophrenic as a culture in how we
organize and respond to issues (legal and illegal
drugs being classified according to social
acceptability rather than their health effects is one
example). We can say with a straight face, "Marijuana
should be banned, it causes disease. But anti-tobacco
laws are unfair and hurt restaurant and bar owners."
Or "Gay marriage would erode the foundation of
civilization, the family. Global warming is mere
hysteria, based on inaccurate modeling of events."
Different standards are applied in different
categories, and the distinguishing factor is not
reason but affiliation and loyalty to a group
perception. So logic can be skewed beyond recognition
in order to fit the prevailing political reality.

The only way to be beyond all that is to not take
money or gifts from any group or industry you're
supposed to be regulating or balancing with other
interests, and not to have exclusive affiliation
(friendships, business partnerships etc) with one
group over another. Few people have an equal number of
liberal and conservative friends, few people are
powerful in politics without being indebted to special
interest groups (executives and labor unions being one
fixture in the 2-party system). Cialdini mentions
reciprocity as one of the "click-whirr" responses, and
says it's unreasonable to think people in power can
receive gifts from groups affected by policy shifts
and not be influenced. Yet it's common for people to
say "Sure, I worked for X, or took money from Y, but
that's not going to change how I make policy
decisions". As the President once said, you can tell a
lot about a man by the company he keeps, and in my
opinion, leaders should be people with no prior
affiliation or loyalty to interest groups in a
polarized system. We need people who can stand on
their own feet, and who have nothing to gain by
favoring one interest group above others.


Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

More information about the paleopsych mailing list