Alan Duval, MBPsS

Feb 22, 2021

2 min read

I don't think for a minute that the OP suggested that Conservatives don't also have a grasp on reality, though, clearly, he's questioning the degree to which that's the case.

My experience in debating with conservatives is that whenever I bring in a point that is related to (and impacted by) whatever the topic we're debating is, the response is almost always, "What's that got to do with it?" This does seem like a means to protect the belief by not discussing anything that might lead to cognitive dissonance. There is a distinct lack of joined up thinking. To give a concrete example, limiting sex education and access to contraception leads to unwanted pregnancies which, in extremis, leads to abortions. So, it is a common position to be against two things; the refusal to allow one leading inexorably to the other.

Research into right wing authoritarian followers finds that they engage in very compartmentalised thinking; keeping all of their contradictory beliefs apart through sheer force of will. So, it's certanly the case that very conservative people can only usually tell that the coin has two sides... these are the same people that think that it's inappropriate for an atheist to provide a young believer that is having a crisis of faith with literature by atheist thinkers, but conversely think that it's entirely appropriate to point the youth to writings of faith-leaders. However, these are those at the extreme.

To re-use a previous example that is less extreme, a conservative individual will have arguments to support both the suppression of sex education and contraception on the one hand AND the outlawing of abortion on the other, but will have absolutely no arguments that even recognise the intersection of these two things. Indeed, I think this is why a lot of conservative thinkers hate inter-sectionality with such a passion, it's simply not a way of thinking they like to engage in. However, one thing about the world that is different to the minds that try to develop good models for it, elements of the world interact, whether you want them to or not.

I'd be very interested to hear similar examples of liberal blindspots that you've encountered in your travels.

Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.

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