Monday, July 09, 2007

Heart Over Head

It's not that every idea that comes from a Democrat is inherently stupid, it's just that it's much easier to win the battle at an emotional level than deign to fight it out intellectually:

Drew Westen, a genial 48-year-old psychologist and brain researcher, was talking to a rapt liberal audience about the role of emotion in politics, how to talk back aggressively to Republicans, and why going negative is not to be feared...

He writes that when Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts let a Swift-boat veterans group drag his reputation through the mud (2004), when Al Gore put a nation to sleep with his talk of lockboxes and Medicare actuaries (2000), and when Michael S. Dukakis said he didn't believe in the death penalty even in the event of his wife's rape and murder (1988), Democrats were exhibiting their single worst tendency: intellectual dispassion.

That style is ballot-box poison, said Westen. "The political brain is an emotional brain," he said. "It prefers conclusions that are emotionally satisfying rather than conclusions that match the data."

Two quick points, then its back to find out about Charlemagne. First, human beings are not rational creatures; they are rationalizing ones. There are exceptions, but intellectual honesty is very rare. Most human beings cherry-pick their sources to support their conclusions which are primarily supported by emotions. Thus evolutionists will claim that evolution is settled science, ignoring the rather large holes in their side of the story. Simultaneously creationists will refuse to look at evolution seriously believing that their book has all the answers.

Tangentially, I find the debate between evolutionist and creationists to be horribly uninteresting. And while the Book has all the answers, it is all but useless unless one reads it correctly. This is but one reason for my identity as a Catholic.

Second, the emotional responses are extremely important to the average, that is to say unprincipled, swing-voter. If government is but a necessary evil, which it is, it's not hard to decide for whom one must vote--assuming one votes at all. Likewise, if one naively believes government to be capable of solving problems, voting is a simple manner. But if one cannot discern whether government be good or bad, one will be forced to vote for the prettier candidate, the one who sounds most presidential.

I just realized I referred to Kathryn Jean Lopez. My apologies. I guess Republicans tend to rationalize, too.

But not libertarians. Just kidding. Sort of.


Doom said...

Yes, but I do watch my own party for that too. RINO's seem to bring it with them, and others seem to become infected by it via association. What's worse is the party leadership just says "Ahhhh! (in that SNL annoying way) Who cares, if we can keep them in office".

I just expect it as fact, foregone conclusion, status quo, what have you, from the other party. As with vice, avarice (both parties on this one), and of course an heartfelt excoriation of American business, military, social, religious, moral, and cultural bases. Well, at least all or part for show, they were more in bed with Enron than the Republican Party ever had time to entertain. It’s probably why that bubble was saved for Bush.

I hope your summer is going well? Though I don't buy Paul, I am surprised you aren't volunteering a bit, or something. I did recommend him to my mother, seems to fit, if I hadn't said. Anyway, take care.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

I hope your summer is going well?

It is. I'm getting a fair amount of reading in including "Moby Dick", Paul Johnson's "A History of the American People"; I'm presently working on volume two of Warren Carroll's "History of Christendom" series, with plans to tackle the next two volumes as well. I've also been kept quite busy with work and ultimate frisbee.

I am surprised you aren't volunteering a bit, or something...

Frankly, I don't have the time. I do my best to get the word out among my friends, and I'll be doing more of the same come fall. With a weekly column and a possible talk show on the college radio station I might be able to reach a few people.