These experiments suggest that conservatives actually do live in a world that is more scary and threatening, at least as they perceive it. Trying to argue them out of it is pointless and naive. It’s like trying to argue them out of their skin.
Chris Mooney has written on this theme before – he wrote a whole book called The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality.
My fascination with his research is not to pester the partisan divide in American politics, but to wonder about the broader implications of how different people perceive the world. The liberal/conservative spectrum is surely a simplistic take on the vast variation among human perception. Is one extreme more ‘right’ or ‘accurate’ than the other? How could one tell? [Science, perhaps?] Or are they just different, selective ways of perceiving the world — each perspective revealing only a part of a greater whole? (Like a Venn diagram of two overlapping circles amidst a much larger set of potential perceptions.)
How could the greater whole ever be perceived? And what about all the parts that lie outside the overlapping but necessarily narrow ranges of this spectrum of human perception?
The issue is analogous to a Facebook graphic I saw today… which, of course, I can’t find now, because Fb changes its selection of posts to display every time you log in (or perhaps I just have too many ‘friends’)… but it was about how humans see only a small fraction of the spectrum, only a small fraction of the audio range, and so on. The point being, there is a larger reality than that with which human perception is compatible. (See Cosmos for examples.)
Ah, here it is: Before you judge other or claim any absolute truth…