Sunday, May 19, 2019

who's more in touch with reality?

Tim Pool cites Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind (which I'm currently reading) to submit that moderates and conservatives generally have a better grip on reality than leftists/liberals do. You've probably already heard of the psych study in which people of differing political alignments were asked to think, for a moment, like someone on the opposite side of the aisle to predict how that opposite would react to certain hypothetical situations. Moderates and conservatives turned out to be significantly better at predicting left/liberal reactions than vice versa. That indicates something about one's groundedness in reality. Let me emphasize that this finding says something about general tendencies, but nothing about exceptions to those tendencies. As I've noted before, the left-leaning people in orbit around my blog tend not to be the irrational, unmoored-from-reality types highlighted in this study. I may have deep disagreements with some of these good folks, but we're capable of having reasonable discussions about our differences. One or two leftie commenters here are not like that—they prefer confrontational trolling–but they're very much the minority in terms of my own experience with leftists. The lefties I know are more or less like Tim Pool himself.

Anyway, enjoy Pool's take on this topic:


Surprises Aplenty said...

I gotta say more republicans than democrats are creationists which puts into question, or completely destroys, any claim that "moderates and conservatives generally have a better grip on reality than leftists/liberals do."

Imagining the planet to be 6,000 years old is to totally deny reality.

Kevin Kim said...

Oh, true enough, and creationists (I used to be one back in early high school!) are pretty ridiculous. Of course, you could expand the discussion to Christians in general, most of whom believe, to some degree or other, that a biologically dead man returned to life in at least a quasi-biological way, and aren't they silly to believe that? And what about those nutty anti-vaxxers, eh?

The problem, though, is that irrational science denialism is on both sides of the aisle. You can't have a rational discussion about the general correlation between race and IQ (Ashkenazi Jews repeatedly come out on top, and I'm not offended) without getting shouted down by wild-eyed liberals on college campuses, nor can you have a rational discussion about, say, trans people competing in cis-sports when it's obvious they shouldn't be doing so—and that it's possibly immoral, as I've argued in the case of trans women fighting in an MMA octagon with cis-women. Even mentioning the idea that there's a discussion to be had re: global warming is enough to make people apoplectic because of "muh 97% scientists' consensus." Both sides have their silly dogmatists, and it's an open question as to which side's science denialism actually does more harm to society as a whole.

As to whether being a creationist means one totally denies reality... well, I'd be interested to hear that argument. A total reality-denier can't function in the real world at all—can't shop for groceries, can't drive a car, can't do basic math, can't have normal conversations with others, etc. I think creationists have goofy, misguided, even toxic beliefs when it comes to the origin of the world and the origin of life, but I also think they're otherwise generally, functionally sane. To be fair, I can extend the sanity umbrella to the science denialists on the left that I mentioned above. Maybe they're only nuts when it comes to race/IQ and gender.

My original point, though, was that it takes a sure grip on reality to be able to predict events and actions, and the point of the study that Haidt cited was that it's the righties who are generally better at understanding and anticipating the lefties than vice versa. The left, meanwhile, is unwilling to give the right credit in this arena, which is a function of its own blindness. Again, speaking only generally.