Saturday, January 28, 2006

Political beliefs and change

Blogging is scarce at the moment because of a pressing deadline.

However, in case you don't read neo-neocon, I definitely suggest checking out her recent posts on "change" -- evolution, sometimes radical, in views on political issues. A mind is a difficult thing to change is the latest in the author's continuing story of her own political journey. There are also several recent posts on other changers, including Guardian writer Jonathan Freedland. All these are admittedly changes from "left" to "right," at least on foreign policy issues. But I think they're quite fascinating, particularly in view of that recent study about how resistant people are to facts that contradict their strongly held views.


mythago said...

I recall a similar study that found that people's willingness to have new information affect their beliefs depended in part on their education level--people with high-school degrees or less were more apt to change their opinions than people with lots more book-larnin'.

The study did not conclude whether this was a function of educated persons having formulated opinions on more evidence, or whether they were simply more invested in Being Right. I'd put my money on the latter.

Synova said...

I suppose I'll have to look into the study more deeply (though I don't really want to) but I know that I *do* react at a gut level to ideas I find distasteful. It doesn't even really matter if I'm trying to be objective, that reaction still happens. But the objective reaction *also* happens.

I also react strongly and negatively to anything that I percieve as a triumphant destruction of my perceptions. Nor do I react with intellectual detatchment to something that I percieve as either an attack, or a trap. From what little has been described of the study here and elsewhere it would seem that *both* the Democrats and Republican subjects of the study were shown their "guy" making contradictory statements. I doubt I'd have reacted any better.

And lastly... political thought tends to depend on a person's understanding of human nature, why we behave the way we behave. I can change my mind, or at least modify my views on issues but it's not a matter of being *shown*, it's a matter of being convinced.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the link to Neo-Neocon. She's definitely joining my roster of regularly-visited blogs.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm not going to repost, but I just posted in the older thread about resistance to political change and boomers unhealthy obsession with the late 60s/early 70s. Even though I still get the impression that neo-neocon is haunted by the ghosts of the 60s, at least she sounds much more reasoned in her approach than so many of the others I have run into.


Lori Heine said...

Some people's convictions stay the same, but their strategies change. I still believe in the same basic values I did as a college kid, but I no longer believe in forcing my vision on others via government regulation. This is why I have evolved into a libertarian.

I wonder if it is possible for the Libertarian Party to break out of its protective little cocoon of ideology and make the leap from fringe party to major player. It could be that people have become so addicted to the fantasy of totally destroying those with whom they disagree that we are stuck in our little camps. If we are really that isolated from one another, I don't see how our country can survive.

Revenant said...

I wonder if it is possible for the Libertarian Party to break out of its protective little cocoon of ideology and make the leap from fringe party to major player.

I'd say no. Many -- most, I suspect -- of the people in the party are members *because* it is a protective little cocoon of ideology. That's true for third parties in general, really; they appeal to people who like to think "I might have lost, but at least I didn't sell out".

Plus, of course, few people are really libertarians at heart. That's why neither party makes a serious effort to push libertarian ideals.

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