The Mote In Your Brother’s Eye: Are Conservatives An Obstacle to Humanity’s Path To Enlightenment?

So, this is quite the revealing video. Now, I’ve known for some time that left-leaning scientists conflate personality with political worldviews. And, as annoying as it is to hear that the chief characteristics of the political right is close-mindedness, a fear of germs, and a powerful tendency to follow Hitler – while the taboo breaking left are all joy and sunshine, there does seem to be some correlation between fear of disease and the closing of ranks in a society. What I find hard to believe is that it has anything to do with political worldviews, but is a part of human nature as a whole. As we witness today, the left seems to want to shut down again, while the right wants to go back out into the world. So, that doesn’t fit the pattern laid out by this evolutionary biologist. [Of course, the answer to this paradox according to Dr. Thornhill is Trump – but I don’t think Peterson is buying it as he politely changes the subject.] Personally, I think that there is room in this world for both risk takers and the homebodies, but what do I know?

Anyway, a lot of the research here is very interesting and, at the end, Dr. Thornhill tells us something of his personal history which explains why he despises conservatives so much and thinks they are all racists. And it’s a heart-breaking story about his dysfunctional family, so it’s understandable, if not very scientific that he feels this way. But then he says that he believes that if we could eradicate all disease then the whole world would become liberal and the human race would achieve ENLIGHTENMENT.

Okay, then. So, maybe he should have not said that out loud as a scientist.

Anyway, I find it odd that he doesn’t recognize the paradox (or cognitive dissonance, if you like) in his own thinking that he has created. His theory is that the fear of germs and disease is what closes us off to those who are outside our in-group and those who exhibit this behavior define what a conservative is because, as a group he tells us, they associate outsiders with parasites and disease. But then he says he believes that once the world is rid of disease, we will have no need for conservatives. So, Dr. Thornhill, a self-described liberal, is associating disease with a group of people outside his in-group and that once both are gone the Enlightenment (purification) of humanity can occur. This, by his own definition, makes him a conservative.

What a world…

The Elephant and the Rider: Can They Heal The Political Divide?

I am currently reading Jonathan Haidt‘s book on a search for the underlying causes of the cultural wars and partisan tribalism. Professor Haidt writes that purpose of his book is to heal some of the misunderstandings between the left and the right:

Our righteous minds made it possible for human beings-but no other animals – to produce large cooperative groups, tribes, and nations without the glue of kinship. But at the same time, our righteous minds guarantee that our cooperative groups will always be cursed by moralistic strife. Some degree of conflict among groups may even be necessary for the health and development of any society. When I was a teenager I wished for world peace, but now I yearn for a world in which competing ideologies are kept in balance, systems of accountability keep us all from getting away with too much, and fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means. Not a very romantic wish, but one that we might actually achieve.

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, Introduction Haight p xiii
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