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Friday, February 09, 2007

On "political irrationality"

Jane Galt posted a link to an interesting paper called Why People Are Irrational about Politics. It's interesting, not only for its comments, but for its own biases:

o The political universe is filled with "problems" that lend themselves to "solutions". (The Technocratic Bias)

o These "problems" can be studied, and "solutions" can be identified, by "studies", which, if done carefully, can reveal objective truth.

o All that matters is data and analysis. If only people would set aside their own experiences and histories - which are what ultimately inform their political beliefs - the truth will out. The problem here is that many political beliefs and positions are informed not just by "biases" (which are held to be a Bad Thing and invalid), but by wisdom and experience.

For example, I don't believe that a vast global treaty infrastructure will help to reduce CO2 emissions because they've been ineffective in everything else they've tried, particularly if large numbers of countries are involved. All the arguments about why it's important to reduce CO2 emissions won't help convince me that such a thing will actually work, if only we "tried hard enough".

o There are two sides to every issue. There are as many "sides" as there are people looking at a problem - sometimes more; I know I'm on many sides sometimes :)

o Irrationality is "wrong". It isn't wrong, it's just irrational, unless you think rationalism is the sole description of "truth".

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