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Would You Slap Your Father? If So, You're a Liberal | NYTimes.com - Op-Ed Columnist - Nicholas D. Kristof

... Simply exposing people to counterarguments may not accomplish much, he said, and may inflame antagonisms. <...>

The larger point is that liberals and conservatives often form judgments through flash intuitions that aren't a result of a deliberative process. The crucial part of the brain for these judgments is the medial prefrontal cortex, which has more to do with moralizing than with rationality. If you damage your prefrontal cortex, your I.Q. may be unaffected, but you'll have trouble harrumphing.

One of the main divides between left and right is the dependence on different moral values. For liberals, morality derives mostly from fairness and prevention of harm. For conservatives, morality also involves upholding authority and loyalty -- and revulsion at disgust. <...>

So how do we discipline our brains to be more open-minded, more honest, more empirical? A start is to reach out to moderates on the other side -- ideally eating meals with them, for that breaks down "us vs. them" battle lines that seem embedded in us. (In ancient times we divided into tribes; today, into political parties.) The Web site www.civilpolitics.org is an attempt to build this intuitive appreciation for the other side's morality, even if it's not our morality. <...>

Thus persuasion may be most effective when built on human interactions. Gay rights were probably advanced largely by the public's growing awareness of friends and family members who were gay. ...

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Thu May 28th, 2009 at 05:12:08 PM EST
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