The following comment was made in response to the blog post Weekly Roundup of Heterodoxy—January 12, 2018 Edition. Below it is the comment I wrote in return. The image of the elephant in the fictional Heterodox Academy (HxA) meeting room is partly tongue in cheek but also partly true. The links in my comment below are added here for convenience but were not included in my posting of it on HxA’s blog because of character limits.
J on January 12, 2018 at 12:29 pm
Always interesting how many of the HA weekly round ups stories are just attacks on right wing thought. There’s a good handful of them here.
I’m frankly sick of being attacked. I teach a STEM course, so I read the syllabus piece earlier this week with a thought of, well in my class there are right and wrong answers and viewpoints and feelings don’t count. But the day is coming when I’ll have to give points for programs that don’t compile because the student “felt” their program was good….
I know my political beliefs will not be accepted at the university and I will eventually be purged because of it….
The Independent Whig on January 13, 2018 at 2:54 pm
Agree. There’s something insidious – well-intentioned but ultimately harmful – about all of this for conservatives. There’s an elephant in the room that nobody’s talking about.
A premise of viewpoint diversity upon which Heterodox Academy rests seems to be that left and right are equally insightful/blind in their perception and comprehension of the social world, but just in different ways.
But the premise is false. A fair and honest reading of the social science – summarized, for example, in The Righteous Mind – reveals that conservatives understand liberals and human nature better than liberals understand conservatives and human nature. Conservatives “get it” better than do liberals. The presumption of symmetry between them is false.
Look, I get it, we’re all hypocrites. We’re all susceptible to a slew of biases because intuition rules and reason is its press secretary; reason evolved to help us win arguments rather than to help us find truth; morality binds and blinds; we throw reason and evidence under the bus when our moral intuitions and/or “Grand Narratives” are threatened. Got it.
But intuitions and narratives are not created equal. By virtue of using all of the moral foundations conservative intuitions yield a mostly accurate intuitive grasp of the realities of human behavior. But by virtue of using about half of the moral foundations liberal intuitions are more akin to a conspiracy theory. This is the central finding of Haidt’s Three Stories About Capitalism and for that matter of The Righteous Mind .
When half of the evolved psychological mechanisms of social perception, comprehension, and imagination are for all practical purposes unavailable to one’s social cognition one is left with no cognitive alternative BUT to conclude that there’s something wrong with conservatives.
Because of liberal dominance in education, media, and entertainment this perspective permeates literally everything; every question that’s asked, every hypothesis that’s proposed, every study that’s designed, every conclusion that’s drawn.