September 3, 2013

"It's these automatic thoughts that cling to the brain like parasites that destroy thinking and reason...."

"Liberals, I think, are especially prone to this, for a bunch of reasons...."

Opines Ace, noting my Ann Althouse post "A new 'Dictionary of Received Ideas'" and giving me an idea for a new entry for my new 'Dictionary of Received Ideas.'"

Received ideas. More prevalent amongst those on the other side.

Related: "All the assholes are over on the other side."

15 comments:

Steve said...

Conservatives are much more receptive to ideas received from parents and cultural institutions while Liberals are more receptive to "experts say."

Judge for yourself which is more reliable.

tim in vermont said...

Here's one, "One death is too many." On a sign that says so far there have been 79 highway fatalities in New Hampshire. If there had been only one, would it have been too many? Really?

Tom said...

While a tad silly, Ace of Spades makes a good point about "automatic thoughts", or what are usually called, Mental Models. A mental model is something we, as humans, develop to recognize patterns and, then, take action. For example, if I showed you 100 pictures of people, there is no way you'd remember every exacting detail of those 100 people. But you may remember who is fat or skinny or blond or brunet or black or white. Mental models are neither good nor bad -- they're neutral -- yet their value is tested in specific circumstances. Some mental models are more useful in certain circumstances than others.

Where we as humans run into problems is when we can no longer detect and question our mental models. For instance, when Mitt Romney discussed the "dependency state", this triggered mental models in conservatives and liberals. But these are very different mental models. I enjoy working with independent people voluntarily (some call this interdependence). So when I hear we're creating a "dependency state", that sounds to me like we're going backwards. To liberals, who may have more experience dealing with co-dependancy, a "dependency state" sounds like we're taking a shot at people that are moving up the ladder and getting better. It sounds harsh.

But what Ace of Spades, I think accurately, states is that our culture is not questioning these mental models or "automatic thoughts" nearly enough. He says liberals are specifically afflicted by this. My guess is we're all affected by it to some degree. And the conflict in the Middle East is a good example.

The conflict in the Middle East is a great lesson in the double-bind. Islamic Extremists are upset that there is a US military presence on the Arabian Peninsula, a place considered by Muslims to be holy. Some of these extremist just complain. Others blow themselves up in terrorist acts. Our response is to put more troops in the Middle East. Each side is reacting to the other's actions without ever questioning the reasons. Both sides consider the other side evil. Further, the best counter argument is that we have see the other side as victims. Neither side possesses the ability or will to completely destroy the other side -- so the pattern continues. And the poor learning continues. And it will continue until one side decides to stop the loop because it challenged it's mental models surrounding the situation.



David said...

I don't think either side of the spectrum is immune from automatic thinking. However, today's liberals cling (bitterly?) to ideas that have been spectacular failures. My best example is the evil stew of crackpot progressive ideas, support of selfish unions, permissive social crap,bureaucratic goo and wasted funding that has perpetuated the immoral failure of urban public education.

RecChief said...

One thing that I think Ace is correct about is that Liberal received ideas drown out all others due to the large numbers of Liberals in academia, the news media, and publishing. Also, Tom and David are on the right path in their analyses, at least in my opinion.

Gahrie said...

The genuine difference in "received ideas" is that the Left thinks the Right is evil, while the Right merely thinks the Left is wrong and misguided.

Henry said...

"Liberals, I think, are especially prone to this, for a bunch of reasons...."

I don't know about liberals, but this is certainly true for Tim Tebow fans.

Yes, Instapundit ran a link to some Tim Tebow conservative-victimization nonsense over the weekend. There are times when Instapundit is nothing but received ideas.

Robert Cook said...

"Conservatives are much more receptive to ideas received from parents and cultural institutions while Liberals are more receptive to 'experts say.'

"Judge for yourself which is more reliable."


One can rephrase this as:

"Conservatives are much more prone to adhere unthinkingly to dogma inculcated in them by authority figures while they were young, while liberals are more questioning of prevailing dogmas and seek out alternative ideas supported by real world data rather than just by 'momma/poppa said.'

"Judge for yourself which is more sensible.
"

Of course, this is just to play semantic games with the original silly statement.

Crunchy Frog said...

This is similar to one of Orin Kerr's hobby horses over at Volokh.

My side is always prudent, reasonable, and centrist. The people on the other side are crazy, racist, reactionary (or communist, or both) extremists, bent on the destruction of all that is right and holy.

Carol said...

I dunno, the right has its received ideas too, plenty of them. Especially those pertaining to PC issues that they are determined to not think about.

For example, with bad schools the knee-jerk reaction on the right is to blame teachers' unions. That way it sounds like they care about schools and have some kind of answer, when they don't.

Jason said...

To be sure of victory, attack the enemy's plans. To make victory permanent, attack, disrupt and destroy his mental models.

tim in vermont said...

"That way it sounds like they care about schools and have some kind of answer, when they don't."

I have an answer. Gut the pensions, put teachers on 401Ks like the rest of us, and defined contribution plans. That way, when teachers got tired of teaching, it would be thinkable for them to find something else to do. They would still have retirement money saved up, and they could continue contributing to it doing other things besides teaching, if they were burned out.

Stop fighting standardized evaluation of student's progress, that would be another.

The list goes on, and teacher's unions are right a the center of things that are wrong with public schools.

John Lynch said...

This is why I stopped watching TV news, and I stopped reading a lot of websites.

What's being sold is a way to avoid thinking about new information. People who can articulate a way to keep believing the same things in the face of new information can do very well for themselves. The goal isn't to convince the audience, but to give the audience the tools to avoid being convinced by unwanted information. Talk show hosts don't convince, they validate. It's an antidote to cognitive dissonance.

It's very easy to see this in people I disagree with. I do it, too, but I try to avoid being sold a cocoon.

tim maguire said...

One of the most important services provided by the Althouseblog is the regular reminder in the comments that all the lazy habits of thought, all the petty shittiness that I hate so much about liberals also exist among conservatives, they are just expressed on different subjects.

Because of the blog reading I do, I sometimes forget that.

Mitch H. said...


One can rephrase this as:

"Conservatives are much more prone to adhere unthinkingly to dogma inculcated in them by authority figures while they were young, while liberals are more questioning of prevailing dogmas and seek out alternative ideas supported by real world data rather than just by 'momma/poppa said.'


Except that isn't true, it's just a self-romance of the liberal id. Zinn-addled college students seek out real-world data no more often than your average, naively conservative long-haul trucker of the same age and maturity. The liberalized student has just replaced his "momma said" with "professor said". It's still received thought.

Tell me, how many liberals and progressives right now are walking around with Inherit the Wind in their heads, thinking that they know all about the Scopes Monkey Trial? If you're lucky, they've read De Camp's popular account instead - and they still don't understand the actual event. Because it's *hard* to drill down to the actual materials, and almost nobody does it on their own hook outside of classwork. Everyone relies on authorities - the question is, how self-deluded are you about your reliance, and what do you know about your accepted authorities?