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Liberals: The World’s Most Privileged Class

The well-known psychological phenomena of motivated reasoning, groupthink, and liberal hegemony in academia and in super zips combine to make liberals the most privileged class of people in the world.

Motivated Reasoning

Motivated cognition refers to the unconscious tendency of individuals to fit their processing of information to conclusions that suit some end or goal….The end or goal motivates the cognition in the sense that it directs mental operations—in this case, sensory perceptions; in others, assessments of the weight and credibility of empirical evidence, or performance of mathematical or logical computation—that we expect to function independently of that goal or end.   – Discover Magazine


Groupthink, a term coined by social psychologist Irving Janis (1972), occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment” (p. 9).  Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups.  A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making. – Psychologists for Social Responsibility

Liberal hegemony in academia

Psychologists have demonstrated the value of diversity – particularly diversity of viewpoints – for enhancing creativity, discovery, and problem solving. But one key type of viewpoint diversity is lacking in academic psychology in general and social psychology in particular: political diversity. This article reviews the available evidence and finds support for four claims: (1) Academic psychology once had considerable political diversity, but has lost nearly all of it in the last 50 years. (2) This lack of political diversity can undermine the validity of social psychological science via mechanisms such as the embedding of liberal values into research questions and methods, steering researchers away from important but politically unpalatable research topics, and producing conclusions that mischaracterize liberals and conservatives alike. (3) Increased political diversity would improve social psychological science by reducing the impact of bias mechanisms such as confirmation bias, and by empowering dissenting minorities to improve the quality of the majority’s thinking. (4) The underrepresentation of non-liberals in social psychology is most likely due to a combination of self-selection, hostile climate, and discrimination. We close with recommendations for increasing political diversity in social psychology.  – Heterodox Academy

Liberal hegemony in super zips

America is well along in the process of geographic self-segregation along ideological demographic  lines.

In Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 Charles Murray explores the formation of American classes that are different in kind from anything we have ever known, focusing on whites as a way of driving home the fact that the trends he describes do not break along lines of race or ethnicity.

The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.

The evidence in “Coming Apart” is about white America. Its message is about all of America. – American Enterprise Institute, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010

The zip codes in which these enclaves exist are dubbed “super zips” by Murray.    Super zips are nearly as ideologically pure as is academia.

What About Politics?

I have given only the barest outline of the tribal customs and rites of the new upper class. I spent a paragraph on new-upper-class vacations, while David Brooks devotes eight pages of Bobos in Paradise to them. I didn’t even mention sex; Brooks has another eight pages about that. I didn’t mention religion; see all thirty-seven pages of his chapter 6 . I gave a few pages to changes in the world of work; Richard Florida devotes the better part of an entire book to them. But the lacuna that is likely to be at the top of your mind is politics. The new upper class tends to be liberal, right? There’s no getting around it: Every way of answering that question produces a yes.  –Charles Murray, Coming Apart

The Washington Post did an in-depth exploration of the subject of super zips, Washington, A World Apart.  This map from that article shows the locations of the super zips.

Super Zip Map

The super zips are the centers of control of not just academia, but the entertainment, news, and social media industries as well.   The residents of the super zips have nearly unfettered control over the levers, pulleys, dials, and switches of the culture.  They set the tone and the topics of debate, and they define the standards of what’s acceptable and what’s not within that debate.  And overwhelmingly liberal.  The result is that to them, their own personal outlook on life is the water we ALL swim in.

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, “What the hell is water?”

If you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise old fish explaining what water is, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The immediate point of the fish story is that the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude – but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance.  – David Foster Wallace

Liberal Privilege

The result is not just motivated reasoning, but also motivated education, motivated journalism, motivated entertainment, and motivated social media, in which liberal values, mores, principles, worldviews, analyses, and conclusions are believed to be the mainstream cultural norm, and a normative good.

And non-liberal versions of all of those are thought to be anomalous outliers that must be studied, explained, and corrected, as if to be non-liberal is to be broken, deficient, sick.

In the vast majority of efforts to understand what’s going on in the world, identify problems, discover root causes, and suggest possible solutions, liberals get a pass.  The problems are seldom if ever their fault.  Rather, through “science” and “evidence” and “reason,” of course, the problems just coincidentally, almost magically, end up being laid at the feet of non-liberals.  And the suggested solutions that make the most sense, equally coincidentally, just happen to  comport with their world view.

Examples of such liberal privilege in academia include this list from academic Lee Jussim in Psychology Today

I can avoid spending time with colleagues who mistrust me because of my politics.

I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of colleagues who share my political views most of the time.

I can be confident that the political beliefs I hold and the political candidates I support will not be routinely mocked by my colleagues.

I can paint caricature-like pictures based on the most extreme and irrational of those who differ from me ideologically without feeling any penalty for doing so.

I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of my academic life.

I can remain oblivious to the richly complex and nuanced views and values of those who hold very different political views than I do without feeling any penalty for such oblivion.

I can easily find academic events which give attention primarily to people of my political persuasion.

If I apply for a job, I can be confident my political views are more likely to be an asset than liability.

I can be pretty confident that, if I present results at colloquia and conferences that validate my political views, I will not be mocked or insulted by my colleagues.

I can arrange my professional activities so that I will never have to experience feelings of rejection owing to my politics.

Liberal privilege in the wider culture include these recent observations by Jim Geraghty:

Milwaukee erupts in riots that injure police officers, but it barely becomes national news. Louisiana is devastated by floods, but it takes a week for the national press to notice. The number of fatal overdoses has exploded since 2010. The suicide rate has increased by 2 percent per year since 2006, and hit the highest levels in nearly 30 years last year. If you view the national news media, based in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and a handful of other cities, as way too monolithic in its political views and driven by conscious and subconscious agendas, the half-hearted-at-best interest in these stories isn’t that hard to explain. These stories aren’t easily used to advance the narrative that Republicans are bad and Democrats are good. If a terrible natural disaster in Louisiana can be blamed on a Republican president, then it’s one of the biggest stories of the decade. If the lack of a public statement on a Louisiana disaster during a presidential vacation might reflect badly on a Democratic president, it’s best to treat the flood as a “page A4″ story, check-the-box journalism. A paranoid schizophrenic shooting a Democratic Congresswoman in Tuscon warrants national conversation on whether the Tea Party’s rhetoric is inherently inciting to violence, and whether gun owners as a whole represent some threat to their fellow citizens. But an illegal immigrant shooting a young woman in San Francisco offers no further explanation or discussion, no need for a national conversation on whether a “sanctuary city” might protect dangerous criminals. A racist madman shooting up a Charleston church group indicts all Southerners, but the twisted cruelty of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell is just  a “local crime story.” If there really is a giant and widening cultural gap between America’s elites and the rest of the citizenry in “flyover country,” how much of it is driven by narrative-minded journalism? If you die in a particular way that can advance the Democrats’ legislative agenda, your death is going to be an enormously big deal. If the circumstances of your death are politically inconvenient to the Left – Brian Terry or the Benghazi four or those who died on the waiting list for the VA —  there are no greater lessons to be learned or need for further action; it’s just an unfortunate set of circumstances. One set of citizens are in the picture; one set of citizens on the periphery get cropped out. It just doesn’t fit the picture that someone wants to create.


The most privileged group in all of western culture is liberals.

Liberals, more than anyone else, need to check their privilege.


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