Sep 22, 2008

Thought vs. Instinct

(found at Edge, from


Every election season, commentators trot out the old statistics about how more education makes people more likely to support Democrats, more studies are published on how liberal Daily Show viewers are so well-informed, and various smart people try to explain why anyone would ever vote for a Republican, against their "self-interest." This month has seen three alarming and remarkable scientific investigations into Americans' inexplicable habit of voting for George Bush and John McCain. Which means: trend! Hooray! Let's take a look at what America's top scienticians say about fucking idiot flyover losers and their stupid voting: ...
...Conservatives Have An Entirely Different Moral Code

This should bring you down, a little bit. Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist, wrote a lengthy anthropological investigation into why people vote for Republicans. It's not the Thomas Frank "they are distracted by bullshit" explanation, though it is related: they have different cultural standards of ethics and morality! Liberals and college students define morality as "how we treat each other," conservatives attach more significance to "supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way." Liberals recognize fairness and care as important moral virtues, conservatives add to that loyalty, respect for authority, and duty. The educated moral relativism worldview is fundamentally incompatible with the way like 50% of America thinks, and stereotypes about out-of-touch elitist coastal democrats are basically correct. Sigh.

So What Have We Learned?

Conservatives respond instinctually, not rationally, to scary images, "facts," and institutions. Whether this is innate and biological or cultural seems still up in the air. Democrats can't win with logical arguments or even appeals to the innate rightness of concepts like "diversity" and "tolerance," because those aren't considered essentially good and important by the voters they're trying to appeal to. This does suggest that an appeal to old New Deal institutional concepts like the Welfare State might actually be effective, if they're wrapped in the flag and a sense of duty. Also scientists still consider the majority of Americans to be like a fascinating exotic backwards tribe and the fucking country is doomed.


Elmo said...

Did not need a scientist to tell me that, I figured that out long ago. That's why I mock wingnuts as Tories. Tories are traitors, just like the Nazi conservatives.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I ask myself this daily, "WHY are people still voting Republican when they have f*cked up the country so much??" I can't fathom their 'logic' no matter how much I talk to them. Actually, that makes it worse. I am an independent and hate the two party system and won't have anything to do with either of them if I can help it.

I have a question, and I suppose its too easy a question or... we wouldn've heard something but... given that the Bush boys have had their, uh, issues with banking scandals in the past -- are there any Bush Boys affiiated with any of these companies that are getting bailed out? By the way sir, I notice you were talking about this in.. April?? Wow. I like your blog and I am bookmarking it. :)

Mauigirl said...

Very interesting. It makes a lot of sense and now I understand why it's so frustrating to try to convince a right-winger that their position is illogical.