Friday, June 20, 2014

Of naive Liberals and repulsive Conservatives

A conservative can no more help being repulsed by chaos and disorder than a liberal can inevitably fail to underestimate human perfidy. They are cognitive biases. Demonstrable tendencies to see the world in certain ways.

We all have them - they have likely been selected for by evolution and to some extent are inescapable.

But - a little self knowledge is a powerful thing.

Knowing our own biases, we can actively practice reassessing our first impressions. I need to actively rein in my desire to please everyone in order to conserve enough energy and resources for my immediate social group. I need to question my tendency to trust and think the best of people, with the reality that some people are selfish and take advantage. It is a rosy pair of glasses I get to wear, and I've told myself endless stories about how wonderful I am for finding everyone so swell, but it's a predisposition and no more 'accurate' than it's opposite.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

We would all do well to understand our differences, and to respect them - because they have likely proved useful in the past.

The conservative who is repulsed by the unknown is less likely to eat a strange fruit that may or may not be poisonous. And that cautionary instinct probably saved many of each of our ancestors.

The liberal who seeks to please strangers likely helped someone who ended up being of great assistance to the propagation of the liberal's genome.

It's life's rich pageant. Like every great cliche, the value of listening and trying to understand the opinions of others, is immensely adaptive. We each see the world in unique, yet statistically demonstrably common ways, and recognizing our blind spots - recognizing when and how we disagree, gives us access to contexts and perspectives that help us make better decisions.

No comments: