Do Political Labels Make You Stupid? Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 11 2012 @ 4:04pm

by Patrick Appel

Wilkinson explains how political identity dumbs us down:

Up until the weeks before I parted ways with Cato, I never felt any overt pressure to toe any sort of party line. But almost as soon as I left, I found that I was noticeably less reflexively defensive about anti-libertarian arguments. I found it easier to the see merit it in them! I feel sure that much of this has to do with the fact that at some level I had recognized that my livelihood depended on staying within the broad bounds of the libertarian reservation, and that this recognition had been exerting a subtle unconscious pressure on my thought.

Once I became an independent operator, much of that pressure lifted. And as soon as that pressure lifted, I began to feel much less attached to the libertarian label. And as that sense of attachment waned, I became even less reflexively defensive about anti-libertarian arguments. It became hard for me to avoid the conclusion that my political self-conception had been interfering with my ability to evaluate arguments objectively. I had been letting people on my team get away with bad arguments, and I had been failing to acknowledge the force of arguments against my team's tenets. The fact that everybody else does this, too, doesn't make me feel any better about my own sins against Truth.

Because humans are reward-seeking creatures, opinions that agree with our interests and preconceived notions are much easier to digest. While trawling for Dish-worthy content to link to, I've learned that emotional dismissals of difficult ideas are not to be trusted. Forcing yourself to read challenging content and grapple with it is the only way to shrink ideological blind-spots.