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Casting your ideological lots (**Warning: lengthy commentary in OP**)


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#1 PhillyB

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 04:09 PM

The Tinderbox fascinates me. I have taken a fairly big step backwards in posting in here in favor of constantly lurking (with the exception of religious threads) and analyzing arguments and articles posted without providing any opinion or commentary on them. This is not because I am without opinion, but because I have become increasingly fascinated with observing the processes by which humans form ideology.

 

I contend that we cast ideological lots, and much of what we hold to be true is held purely on faith by association.

 

Examples of this phenomenon are everywhere in societies (globally, I would argue.) In religion, a religion's unverifiable claims are embraced without challenge because they are associated inextricably with necessity of adherence to that religion. In Islam, for instance, notions of the barzahk as a space between abstraction and reality wherein dreams can be interpreted is embraced as a tenet of Sufi philosophy and part of Islamic hermeneutics; even devout Muslims may contend that dream interpretation is independently absurd, but its association with a greater belief system is what gives it its clout (and, to an extent, its imperviousness.)

 

To follow the monotheistic religious theme, orthodox Christianity is composed of a number of claims that, in a vacuum, would be considered ridiculous. But if you've already subscribed to the religion and ends, then the means are acceptable regardless of the implausibility of those means. We know dead people can't come back to life, but if we accept "Christianity is true" to be a true statement, then we can suspend our standards of belief to make room for it without a second thought.

 

This phenomenon is just as easily visible in politics (and perhaps more readily noticeable in daily American political discourse.) Look at how some unlikely political issues are often allied. Parties rely on cohesive constituencies that constitute a voter bloc that reflect a particular platform. And suddenly with this in mind it makes a lot more sense that fundamentalist Christians, for instance, also strongly ascribe to 2nd amendment rights (when there is zero correlation to be drawn between fundamentalist Christianity and guns.) Some would even argue that Christianity and capitalist economic systems are mutually exclusive, but functionally this is not the case, and that's because of, again, association. We take it to be true because of our alliance with the ally of another position, all defined by the subtle movements of political or social structure.

 

If this all seems a little abstract, consider any issue... say, for instance, global warming. Most of us have really strong opinions about global warming. But how many of us are climate scientists? How many of us have access firsthand to raw data? How many of us have drilled ice cores or measured oxygen levels in the North Pacific? The truth is most of us have opinions on whether or not global warming is real (or manmade) with absolutely nothing substantial to back them up. We quote sources of authority that we've placed our faith in based on their association with other things we already believe in. "I believe that Democrats are bad, and Democrats are banging the climate change drum, therefore it's fake." Or, "I believe anti-science is religious bias, and that's stupid so climate change is real."

 

Another example is evolution. How many of us are evolutionary scientists, or young-earth creationists dedicating lives to such a field? Mav1234 is the only one I can think of, but it seems most of us have an opinion on this. In essence we are casting our lots with whichever source of authority best matches the most important things we believe. If we hold the predetermined conclusion that the Bible is literally true, then we'll cast our lot with the YEC that claims radiocarbon dating is flawed even if we don't know the first thing about radiocarbon dating, just because he said so and he's on our side. I see this all the time, hardly a surprise given my social context.

 

So what do we do about this? Should we do anything about it? Is it a problem at all? Is it just the way things are?

 

Answering respectively: I don't know, I think so, yes, and yes.

 

The fact is if any of us were to suspend decision-making until we fully understand an issue, none of us would believe in anything, or very few of us would, and most of us would have to either be MENSA members or old as hell to really legitimately substantiate that belief. So most of us just plug into our predetermined info sources and yammer on without considering we could be complete idiots in reality and then yell loudly about how other people are stupid. Why do you think echo chambers are so popular and marketable?

 

ScreenShot2013-11-09at40119PM_zps09ecbeeScreenShot2013-11-09at40144PM_zpseec54fd

 

 

 

^ Look at that guy! He is Exhibit A. He has cast his lot irretrievably with a particular information source, which is reflective of a specific ideological bloc, and will be manipulated accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

....so what? if this is all true, what do we do? how do we change our methodology of information-gathering, processing, belief-forming, and decision-making based on it?



#2 PhillyB

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 04:14 PM

Any number of issues/narratives can be held up to this light, btw, and illuminated accordingly. Our belief in what happened in benghazi is framed by what we believe about the Obama administration. Our belief about whether or not the Vietnam War was morally justifiable defends mostly on whether or not we were born in America or Vietnam. To this end, I would further argue that what we believe is - to a terrifying extent - completely out of our control. We may make decisions on what we believe, but our agency is often an illusion. Often we no more decide what we are going to believe than a child born in China decides whether or not he is going to learn Chinese.

 

This is scary shit for obvious reasons and I think it's why nobody wants to think about it



#3 jackson113

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 06:13 PM

Hold on a sec........Fug Tom Cruise....carry on...............



#4 SZ James

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Posted 09 November 2013 - 08:18 PM

Re: Should we all be experts..
It may be a problem, but also consider that being the expert or the "authority" on the subject, will not always make you right. Since there is never 100% agreement among experts, you will still have to side with someone if it influences public policy.

Re: Faith by association
Package deals in politics, grouping unrelated things like gun control and religion are weird like you said. By nature though, politicians have to decide on a ton of different issues. Yeah, there is a template decided on by the party for the politicians to associate with. But they still have ways to distinguish themselves as individuals with different ideals to win in the primaries.

I think what you are getting at is that someone who agrees more with a certain party is going to be more likely change their own values to reflect their favorite party to fit in.

If you find that to be the case, here's a wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia....wiki/Conformity

#5 Kral

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 01:09 PM

This is scary shit for obvious reasons and I think it's why nobody wants to think about it

The reason people don't like to think about this is because it challenges their paradigm and these people do not want to realize that they are not good people and they support evil systems.  This of course assumes a moral standard somewhat based around the idea of "do unto others..."

 

That's my hypothesis for now anyway.

 

For a small example lets look at constitutional republic for a moment.  Is it really a superior form of government?  Is there nothing that could be better?  If so why can't we implement it?  These questions are going to be to your average American very much against their established views and will be viewed in a negative light even if the intent is to help them, in this case by possibly determining a superior form of government to implement through discussion.



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Posted 11 November 2013 - 05:52 PM

The reason people don't like to think about this is because it challenges their paradigm and these people do not want to realize that they are not good people and they support evil systems.  This of course assumes a moral standard somewhat based around the idea of "do unto others..."

 

That's my hypothesis for now anyway.

 

For a small example lets look at constitutional republic for a moment.  Is it really a superior form of government?  Is there nothing that could be better?  If so why can't we implement it?  These questions are going to be to your average American very much against their established views and will be viewed in a negative light even if the intent is to help them, in this case by possibly determining a superior form of government to implement through discussion.

er...What system has created more wealth, prosperity, freedom than ours? You discover that system and i will be it's biggest supporter.



#7 Kurb

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:03 PM

Any number of issues/narratives can be held up to this light, btw, and illuminated accordingly. Our belief in what happened in benghazi is framed by what we believe about the Obama administration. Our belief about whether or not the Vietnam War was morally justifiable defends mostly on whether or not we were born in America or Vietnam. To this end, I would further argue that what we believe is - to a terrifying extent - completely out of our control. We may make decisions on what we believe, but our agency is often an illusion. Often we no more decide what we are going to believe than a child born in China decides whether or not he is going to learn Chinese.

 

This is scary shit for obvious reasons and I think it's why nobody wants to think about it

 

 

That and it actually happened and was systematically covered up.  

/derail over.



#8 PhillyB

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:12 PM

That and it actually happened and was systematically covered up.  

/derail over.

 

well yeah but how does that fit into our broader narrative of the geopolitical spectrum? by itself it is a big deal, of course (any loss of lives is) but how we categorize it is entirely dependent, i think, on the particular informational and ideological sources to which we have bound our faith and the decision-forming that stems from them.

 

consider also (derailing your derail here) the extent to which authority figures play a role in our ideological formation. if i grow up hearing from my parents that republicans want to bomb the poor, it becomes truth to me, and the opinion of anyone else who suggests something similar is likely to be received as truth, along with the other sets of parallel values that that person holds to be true.

 

less abstractly, if for whatever reason i have determined (or it has been determined for me) that reagan was a bad president, then my decision that i believe trickle-down economics don't work is based on that predetermined notion, not because i actually have a goddamn clue what the numbers say. instead i accept numbers that show supply-side economics to be bullshit and throw away ones that suggest otherwise and claim bias.

 

this is not to come down on one side of the argument or another, but merely to illustrate how susceptible our worldviews are to being formed unconsciously by forces far beyond our control.



#9 pstall

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:45 PM

the movie Network spelled this out many years ago. then again in the two songs Dirty Laundry and All she wants to do is dance.

 

concise summary ftw.



#10 Kral

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 12:52 AM

er...What system has created more wealth, prosperity, freedom than ours? You discover that system and i will be it's biggest supporte

Thanks for showing my point.



#11 lightsout

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 01:08 AM

Good thread.


There are several things we, as a society, have to do.

1. Value education again. Across the country, we are suffering in education. Families don't place importance on it as much as they used to. This stems, I think, from our economy and the fact that high levels of education no longer guarantee you a job. While that is true, we should still work harder as a society to ensure our young people are properly educated. The BIGGEST thing that I think needs to be MANDATORY is a critical thinking class. One that you have to have, say, each year. And each year, it progressively gets tougher and more in-depth. Challenge our world's most impressionable minds: children. Most kids, especially in the Bible Belt (though, it occurs everywhere), have been indoctrinated with certain beliefs and ideologies (Christianity and racism being the biggest two). While there is nothing wrong with letting children believe what makes sense to them, we need to make sure they understand what they're subscribing to and fully understand how to believe things and hold views for good reasons. Teach them how to think. Teach them the methods for discerning truth. Teach them to VALUE truth. When you do this, you will see a smarter society that is more capable of contributing to society. And this leads me to my next point:

2. Get religious views out of politics. This one is tough. It's hard to convince people that their religious views hold no place in politics. This is due, again, to the indoctrination and the facts that you pointed out about people subscribing to political ideologies because of other ideologies they hold. I believe that no society can flourish long term under a political system that is filled with religious ideology. Religion is built to be divisive, which isn't conducive to working together with other people for the greater good. Instead of saying, "hey, we can set aside this ideology to work on this issue", we have people saying, "if you just thought like me and agreed with me, we wouldn't have this problem".

3. We have to convince people to think more about their positions. Most people don't know WHY the hell they hold the positions they hold, and when challenged, they double down and want to agree to disagree. Depending on the issue and situation, that may be the right course. However, when it comes to getting to the bottom of an issue and trying to make progress, it's a roadblock. It's halting progress in favor of the status quo. People want to hold onto their ideologies fervently rather than have them challenged because it's not comfortable because, again, they don't know how to defend most of their ideologies. Many of them actually, in reality, do not agree with a lot of their ideologies (or at least, some of the things within those broader ideologies). Until we, as a society, start accepting that "maybe I need to think more about this and see if it is actually defensible under the white hot light of objective scrutiny", we won't get anywhere and the problems outlined in the OP will persist.



As you can see, those 3 things go hand-in-hand. If you do one, it will, at some point, lead to one of the others, and so on. If you do it in that order, hell, you might not GET to #3, because #1 covers it ahead of time. 



#12 lightsout

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 01:15 AM

I do want to divert from topic a bit and cover something you mentioned, Philly. Deferring to authority isn't ALWAYS bad/the wrong thing to do. In the case of say, evolution, you said it; most people aren't evolutionary biologists. Taking a few courses on it certainly makes one more aware of how it works and the effects of it, but they're still by no means experts. Deferring to the authority of scientists dedicated in the field is the right course of action to take when discussing it. Evolution is the widely accepted model for the progression of life on earth over time. So widely that it lead to modern medicine and our understanding of how the various specious of plant and animal life have come to be. So widely that, in the biology field, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single scientist that disagrees with the theory and has significant, peer-reviewed and accepted evidence to support their disagreement in favor of their model of YEC.

Now, deferring to authority in the way people say "god said it, so it's true" is indeed wrong and a logical fallacy. Just wanted to point that out for those who might think deferring to experts is a cop-out when it's actually not.



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Posted 12 November 2013 - 06:46 PM

Thanks for showing my point.

So your point was only to get a reaction, and not based on facts? Please enlighten me of the virtues of other government systems in the world. Although i agree the US system  is flawed, and needs tweaking, the foundation that a constitutional republic provides is unmatched. It has been proven throughout history. If you have evidence that others foundations have out performed ours, by all means, please share. I am curious and open minded.



#14 Kral

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 06:51 PM

So your point was only to get a reaction, and not based on facts? Please enlighten me of the virtues of other government systems in the world. Although i agree the US system  is flawed, and needs tweaking, the foundation that a constitutional republic provides is unmatched. It has been proven throughout history. If you have evidence that others foundations have out performed ours, by all means, please share. I am curious and open minded.

My point was that you would ignore my point once I invoked something not acceptable to your paradigm.



#15 pstall

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 06:55 PM

My point was that you would ignore my point once I invoked something not acceptable to your paradigm.

 

do you accept his paradigm?




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