April 10, 2013

My demographic and I are of one mind on this matter

I don't find the mild hypocrisy outlined in this A. Barton Hinkle article on "cognitive dissonance" and gun control to be all that remarkable, or at all surprising. And I'm not even sure it qualifies as hypocrisy -- there's nothing unusual about valuing some rights and values more than others, or approving of the flimsier arguments if they support your own interests; arguing against this is like arguing against human nature.

The interesting thing, to me, is that people engage in this behavior without realizing that that's what they're doing, i.e., they genuinely believe that the post-hoc rationalizations for conclusions pre-determined by cultural loyalties are in fact rational arguments that led them independently to the conclusions. I think this kind of thing happens nearly 100% of the time to some degree, and I find it fascinating.

Anyway, this seems to me to be completely right:

To a much greater degree than we would like to think, we choose up sides first. Then we align our conclusions with what our side thinks about a particular issue. Then we adopt the arguments that best suppor the conclusions our side favors—even if we dispute those same arguments in other cases.
Posted by Dr. Frank at April 10, 2013 09:24 PM