Society & Politics

Why Won’t They Listen?

William Saletan

One of the common critiques of the political world is its divisive nature. With barely a moment passing, a person or policy will be labeled as characteristic of one political party or another, and thus accepted or opposed. This apparent situation is the topic of Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind—reviewed by William Saletan—which argues that “people are fundamentally intuitive, not rational”; we are more likely to go with our gut than our head. As such, when we approach a topic that we have not put much thought into, we are much more likely to find support for our initial conclusions or to side with those with whom we already have allegiance. We are more likely to use information to justify our conclusions rather than deliberate over it and come to new conclusions. For the Christian who wants to be more thoughtful about his or her approach to politics, Haidt’s research is of great help as it shows why situations do not necessarily change despite an influx of new information. However, by recognizing our tendency to think in partisan ways, we can make conscious moves to think differently. For instance, Saletan’s article points to research that “shows that two minutes of reflection on a good argument can change a person’s mind.” Thus, rather than jumping to defend our political team or assumed position, taking just a couple of minutes to think through the particular situation being discussed can, unsurprisingly, make a big difference.

Source: New York Times

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