[FoRK] Why Won’t They Listen?,‘The Righteous Mind'

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Thu Apr 5 09:26:56 PDT 2012

This thesis rings true.
I would argue that some who dismiss such mindsets are not necessarily ignorant of where they are coming from or how they work, 
but view the eventual conclusion of such views as being predictably harmful.  Knowing that Basic or structured programming tends 
to produce poor code isn't being dismissive of someone who only learned those methods as a person.  Unless they've been 
repeatedly exposed to evidence that other methods are better.  Then you just have to wonder.  Most often, someone who has 
latched onto some obsolete and outdated technology is someone who is only a shallow player.  There's nothing wrong with someone 
dabbling in whatever they want, unless they directly and negatively affect you.  Someone who may have a long history with Basic 
or Cobol or whatever, because they found a niche and are comfortable perhaps, might feel that a kid out of college who is 
wielding the newest tech has no standing since they haven't  put in the time yet.  While true in one sense, their trajectory 
will obviously tend to put them in a more powerful position shortly.  It doesn't matter whether they made a carefully reasoned 
choice or just happened on the right thing or, more likely, they benefited from aggregate curation by consensus of leaders and 

World views are, at the limit anyway, a lot like those technology choices.  Choosing whatever mental "technology" you want is 
your right, but it is not necessarily equal to newer, better tech in overall effectiveness.  To the extent that people try to 
force other people to program in Basic or use Windows or "believe", they will fail in the long run.  The only real question is 
how painful the pointless struggle is going to be.

> In the West, we think morality is all about harm, rights, fairness and consent. Does the guy own the chicken? Is the dog 
> already dead? Is the sister of legal age? But step outside your neighborhood or your country, and you’ll discover that your 
> perspective is highly anomalous. Haidt has read ethnographies, traveled the world and surveyed tens of thousands of people 
> online. He and his colleagues have compiled a catalog of six fundamental ideas that commonly undergird moral systems: care, 
> fairness, liberty, loyalty, authority and sanctity. Alongside these principles, he has found related themes that carry moral 
> weight: divinity, community, hierarchy, tradition, sin and degradation.
>           Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion
> By Jonathan Haidt
> Illustrated. 419 pp. Pantheon Books. $28.95.
> The worldviews Haidt discusses may differ from yours. They don’t start with the individual. They start with the group or the 
> cosmic order. They exalt families, armies and communities. They assume that people should be treated differently according to 
> social role or status — elders should be honored, subordinates should be protected. They suppress forms of self-expression 
> that might weaken the social fabric. They assume interdependence, not autonomy. They prize order, not equality.
> These moral systems aren’t ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they’re common in history and across the globe because they 
> fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with 
> what we’re given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn’t, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma 
> because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many 
> hierarchies and don’t support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.
> You don’t have to go abroad to see these ideas. You can find them in the Republican Party. Social conservatives see welfare 
> and feminism as threats to responsibility and family stability. TheTea Party 
> <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/t/tea_party_movement/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>hates 
> redistribution because it interferes with letting people reap what they earn. Faith, patriotism, valor, chastity, law and 
> order — these Republican themes touch all six moral foundations, whereas Democrats, in Haidt’s analysis, focus almost entirely 
> on care and fighting oppression. This is Haidt’s startling message to the left: When it comes to morality, conservatives are 
> more broad-minded than liberals. They serve a more varied diet.
> This is where Haidt diverges from other psychologists who have analyzed the left’s electoral failures. The usual argument of 
> these psycho-­pundits is that conservative politicians manipulate voters’ neural roots — playing on our craving for authority, 
> for example — to trick people into voting against their interests. But Haidt treats electoral success as a kind of 
> evolutionary fitness test. He figures that if voters like Republican messages, there’s something in Republican messages worth 
> liking. He chides psychologists who try to “explain away” conservatism, treating it as a pathology. Conservatism thrives 
> because it fits how people think, and that’s what validates it. Workers who vote Republican aren’t fools. In Haidt’s words, 
> they’re “voting for their/moral/interests.”
> The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about 
> authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. 
> And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves “very 
> liberal,” were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at 
> predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don’t understand conservative values. And they can’t recognize this 
> failing, because they’re so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.
> Haidt isn’t just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which 
> the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by 
> entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other 
> people’s reason engaging yours. We’re lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we’re good at challenging each other’s.
> You don’t have to believe in God to see this higher capacity as part of our nature. You just have to believe in evolution. 
> Evolution itself has evolved: as humans became increasingly social, the struggle for survival, mating and progeny depended 
> less on physical abilities and more on social abilities. In this way, a faculty produced by evolution — sociality — became the 
> new engine of evolution. Why can’t reason do the same thing? Why can’t it emerge from its evolutionary origins as a spin 
> doctor to become the new medium in which humans compete, cooperate and advance the fitness of their communities? Isn’t that 
> what we see all around us? Look at the global spread of media, debate and democracy.

> Haidt is part of this process. He thinks he’s just articulating evolution. But in effect, he’s also trying to fix it. Traits 
> we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid 
> globalization. A pure scientist would let us purge these traits from the gene pool by fighting and killing one another. But 
> Haidt wants to spare us this fate. He seeks a world in which “fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means.” 
> To achieve this goal, he asks us to understand and overcome our instincts. He appeals to a power capable of circumspection, 
> reflection and reform.
> If we can harness that power — wisdom — our substantive project will be to reconcile our national and international 
> differences. Is income inequality immoral? Should government favor religion? Can we tolerate cultures of female subjugation? 
> And how far should we trust our instincts? Should people who find homosexuality repugnant overcome that reaction?
> Haidt’s faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for 
> sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic. But Haidt is right that we must learn what we have been, even if our nature is 
> to transcend it.
> William Saletan, Slate’s national correspondent, is the author of “Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War.”


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