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The Asymmetry of Ideology

Liberals are unable to understand the moral universe of conservatives.

by
Rand Simberg

Bio

April 26, 2012 - 12:00 am
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Clearly, the Left views Cheney through the same Alice-in-Evil-Land mirror, to the point that they don’t believe that he deserves to live. Haidt elaborates:

If you don’t see that Reagan is pursuing positive values of loyalty, authority and sanctity, you almost have to conclude that Republicans see no positive value in care and fairness. You might even go so far as Michael Feingold, theater critic for The Village Voice, when he wrote in 2004, “Republicans don’t believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the plan…Which is why I personally think they should be exterminated before they cause any more harm.” One of the [many] ironies in this quotation is that is shows the inability of a theater critic -– who skillfully enters fantastical imaginary worlds for a living — to imagine that Republicans operate within a moral matrix that differs from his own.

Again, emphasis mine.  Note the Leftist eliminationist rhetoric from the people who deign to lecture us, the great unwashed, about civility. Another irony is that he is no doubt hyperconfident of his ability to see into the hearts of conservative darkness, which is really just an example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, described as “…a cognitive bias in which the unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes”:

The hypothesized phenomenon was tested in a series of experiments performed by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, both then of Cornell University.[2][5] Kruger and Dunning noted earlier studies suggesting that ignorance of standards of performance is behind a great deal of incompetence. This pattern was seen in studies of skills as diverse as reading comprehension, operating a motor vehicle, and playing chess or tennis.

Kruger and Dunning proposed that, for a given skill, incompetent people will:

  1. tend to overestimate their own level of skill;
  2. fail to recognize genuine skill in others;
  3. fail to recognize the extremity of their inadequacy;
  4. recognize and acknowledge their own previous lack of skill, if they can be trained to substantially improve.

This would also go a long way to explain how conservatives can survive in Hollywood:

One of the more amusing and obvious effects of this is seen in writing, especially in Hollywood, where conservative writers can write fully developed liberal characters (and most have to if they want to keep working), whereas liberal writers’ attempts at writing a conservative character invariably produce a laughably bad, two-dimensional caricature. Conservatives and liberals then watch two different movies. The liberals think the conservative characters are spot on, while conservatives instantly recognize that they’re watching yet another amateur attempt by an idiot liberal writer who doesn’t have the vaguest idea how a conservative thinks.

As one more data point, the phenomenon was on full display in the recent controversy over the Heartland document on teaching science, in which many of the Leftist warm mongers continue to fantasize that the faked Heartland document is real. On the other hand, it was almost immediately obvious to those on the other side, even those sympathetic to the AGW thesis, such as (libertarian) Megan McArdle, that it was faked, because no conservative would have written such a thing in such a way. As she noted, it read like “it was written from the secret villain lair in a Batman comic. By an intern.”

Peter Gleick wrote it that way, and his partners in fraud thought it perfectly plausible, exactly because they fundamentally lack this ability to understand the motivations of their political opponents. And by Haidt’s thesis, they are, by the nature of their belief system, unable to rectify this problem. So perhaps the rest of us should take note, take heart, and most importantly in the coming months, take advantage.

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Rand Simberg is a recovering aerospace engineer and a consultant in space commercialization, space tourism and Internet security. He offers occasionally biting commentary about infinity and beyond at his weblog, Transterrestrial Musings.
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