Monday, December 09, 2013

A cry for help

So I happen to know, or anyway, believe, that one of LAGuy's favorite concepts is the idea (maybe moment is a better word) of when people change their mind on some contested topic of importance to them.

A related question that intrigues me about as much and often pops up in posts and everywhere is this concept of the same argument being used on opposing sides of an issue or attitude--"our side fights too nicely," etc.

Cass seems to be getting a lot of play lately (our attention to him is doubtless an indicator of abuse in our youth), so let me continue that by noting his (fear? hope?) that the unwashed masses won't communicate with each other, but will instead do tunnel vision (you know, something horrible like watch Fox News) and thus be uninformed about the real world.

In any case, I have a good friend who has next to nothing to do with my good friends here but is likewise among the smartest people I have ever met. He attended, but did not graduate, U of C, because as an undergrad he started making so much money that he got busy. He'll doubtless retire soon and I expect he'll finish up his degree then, if the college hasn't collapsed into irrelevancy. Recently, he sent me a link to The Nation (an article on Primo Levi, whom my friend knows I admire) and whilst there I saw an article, "Thinking like a conservative (Part Six): Government Dependency"

Somehow, I intuited this might not be the only article along these lines, and I managed to find several more, probably half a dozen or so.

So here's the rub. I pretty much know what I'm going to find, and so I can't bring myself to read the tripe. It'll be more or less what Cass writes, just not nearly as subtle and without the patina of balance.

Is there anyone out there with the kindness and capacity to do it for me? To tell me that, indeed, out of the 500 words repeated six times there is an actually an insight or two that's worth reading? I don't demand an average of one per article. I will be 20 percent surprised if there is one in the series. I'll be 40 percent surprised if half the articles have something to say.

And I'll be 100 percent shocked if the theme of the series turns out to be that conservatives have even a point or two to bring to the Great Discussion.


Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Save your breath, anonymous. I'm giving my Lefty friends a chance, aren't I?

5:12 AM, December 08, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservatives. Not reading the opposition since Edmund Burke.

5:55 AM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Cass's research shows that the most politically involved people regularly read the other sides' material. They only read it, however, to mock it, and are less likely to change their minds than people less involved.

The conservatives do have one good argument. Since our media is mostly run by Democrats, it's almost impossible for the average person to miss the liberal message while the right is ghettoized. Research shows average Democrats required to read Republican sources are more likely to move a bit right than Republicans required to read Democrat sources. Or maybe that just shows how unchanging the minds of the GOP are.

9:42 AM, December 09, 2013  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

So I gather you two libs aren't willing to read it either? We have common ground, which is nice.

10:14 AM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. You regularly refer us to other articles to understand what you're referring to. Now, this time around, you want us to actually do your reading for you?

10:43 AM, December 09, 2013  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest problem with both liberals and conservatives have is the inability to understand the other side. They disagree, of course, but they also don't take the other side seriously. Thus, whenever The Nation has an article about "thinking like a conservative" it can't help but caricature the other side.

8:39 PM, December 09, 2013  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Thanks, anon. I agree. It is hard though. One dynamic is, after you've gone through the trouble of sorting things out, then *most* of what you see on the other side is something you've already rejected, consciously and explicitly (and maybe or maybe not conscientiously).

I've tried several times to come up with the trait or two or view or two that separates the main sides, and it's pretty tough. It's even hard (obviously) to boil things down to two sides--apart from the football game aspect of it.

In fact, I'd almost say that's the most powerful model. Take "constitution" and/or "rule of law", and hatred of the "enemy", and you've got a decision model for 70, 80 or 90 percent of views.

The hatred, of course, is nearly an identity, so not very useful intellectually. But rule of law isn't much help either, since both sides mean entirely different things by it. (Which leads right back into the "our side fights too nicely" problem--process is everything/nothing, until it isn't.)

12:52 AM, December 10, 2013  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Here's a chuckler:

"Clueless, Heartless, and Gutless: Today's GOP"

Ah, my old friend Ron Fournier, he of longstanding AP greatness.

1:03 AM, December 10, 2013  

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