Links and Comments: Conservative Cruelty; Blue Lies

Chauncey DeVega at Alternet: Why Are Republicans So Relentlessly Cruel to the Poor?. Subtitle: “Paul Ryan has dreamed of slashing Medicaid since his keg-party days—and that blithe hostility is widespread”.

Because conservatives are more inclined to think that poor people *deserve* their fate. It’s called the Just-world fallacy (aka blaming the victim), and it’s a spin-off of the “everything happens for a reason” fallacy, and both, by examining real-world cases, can be shown to be false. Perhaps it’s also aligned with the “I’m more special than everyone else, in so many important ways” fallacy, AKA the “self-enhancement bias”, as McRaney called it. (Discussed in my review here.)

The essay at hand (retaining some of its links):

Conservatism is a type of motivated social cognition that by its very nature is hostile to those groups located on the lower rungs of the social hierarchy.

Conservatives are more likely than liberals or progressives to believe in what is known as the “just world fallacy,” where people who suffer misfortune are viewed as somehow deserving their fates. Conservatives are also more likely than liberals or progressives not to use systems-level thinking as a means of understanding that individuals do not exist separate and apart from society.  Conservatives are also more likely to defend social inequality as “fair and legitimate.”

Social psychologists have shown that, in effect, poor people are invisible to the rich and upper classes.


Another topic, via Scientific American: Jeremy Adam Smith, The science of “blue lies”: There’s a reason Trump supporters embrace his alternative facts.

Subtitle: “Blue lies are a very particular form of deception that can build solidarity within groups”

Another example, is my first thought, about how human intelligence isn’t about accurate perception of the world, let alone any kind of rationalism, as about surviving and reproducing, and how group coherence is often key toward that goal. The article asks, how is it Trump can get away with telling so many lies?

Journalists and researchers have suggested many answers, from hyper-biased, segmented media to simple ignorance on the part of GOP voters. But there is another explanation that no one seems to have entertained. It is that Trump is telling “blue” lies — a psychologist’s term for falsehoods, told on behalf of a group, that can actually strengthen the bonds among the members of that group.

Children start to tell selfish lies at about age three, as they discover adults cannot read their minds: I didn’t steal that toy, Daddy said I could, He hit me first. At around age seven, they begin to tell white lies motivated by feelings of empathy and compassion: That’s a good drawing, I love socks for Christmas, You’re funny.

Blue lies are a different category altogether, simultaneously selfish and beneficial to others — but only to those who belong to your group. As University of Toronto psychologist Kang Lee explained, blue lies fall in between generous white lies and selfish “black” ones. “You can tell a blue lie against another group,” he said, which makes it simultaneously selfless and self-serving. “For example, you can lie about your team’s cheating in a game, which is antisocial, but helps your team.”

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