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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Worldview change operations
Tuesday May 4, 2004 Taking off from a discussion on Carol Kennedy's (cakmpls) LiveJournal:

"I think that what we may have here is two ways of looking at the world: as a generally dangerous place with pockets of safety or as a generally safe place with pockets of danger. This may be an aspect of individual personality, or it may be learned behavior, or it may even have a genetic component."
http://www.livejournal.com/users/cakmpls/37954.html

For some of us, our "natural" way of looking at the world may feel as wrong as the body's "natural" gender does to a transsexual.

I grew up seeing the world as mostly dangerous. My brain was wired in ways that encouraged this, and it was a family tradition. It was the way I felt -- but it felt wrong.

Now I see the world as mostly safe. Partly because my brain chemistry changed; I've been taking medication for Attention Deficit Disorder. Partly because my thinking habits and emotional habits changed. But other people make similar changes, and don't shift from one to the other.

I don't think it's made me either more or less realistic. Being out from under the pressure of having the "wrong" orientation has made me able to judge more accurately, which is not the same thing. (It's common for both kinds of people to not only misjudge, but make the "wrong" kind of misjudgement. Stalin distrusted almost everyone -- but he trusted Hitler.)

ladyjillian 2004-05-05 01:03
Have a look at Robert Lakoff's book Moral Politics--What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don't (there are discussions and excerpts online, but I'm not sure any of them gives that good an understanding of his argument). He ascribes the issue you're considering to upbringing practices.

snippy 2004-05-05 08:18
What kind of upbringing practices, specifically?

ladyjillian 2004-05-05 08:33
In the first article I read about Lakoff, before I read his book, he describes walking with a friend once who said I can tell what kind of person you are by asking you one question--if your baby is crying in the next room, do you go to comfort it or not? In Lakoff's book, if you do the former you are following the Nurturant Parent model, and believe that children should be nurtured and supported so that they can grow into strong and self-reliant adults. If you do the latter you are following the Strict Father model, and believe that the world is a harsh and dangerous place and the sooner your children internalize this the stronger and safer they will be. Lakoff shows how these family metaphors translate to a startling degree into American politics.

snippy 2004-05-05 09:30
Interesting, but I think like most dichotomies it oversimplifies the situation, and places more emphasis on nurture than nature than is upheld by data.

Thanks for the reference, I'll have to pick up the book and check it out more thoroughly.

dsgood 2004-05-05 16:17
Lakoff's theory doesn't cover me; I most definitely did not come from a conservative family. Three of my grandparents were Marxists; the fourth was an anarchist. My parents had moved somewhat to the right; they were on the left edge of liberalism. But the view of the world they passed on to me is the one Lakoff ascribes to conservatives.

I've noticed certain resemblances between Americans raised as Communists and American Fundamentalist Protestants. (Note that for all I know, both these groups are quite different in Canada -- let alone farther parts of the world.) Perhaps radical leftists are much more like conservatives than they are like liberals?

Dan Goodman (dsgood) wrote,@ 2004-05-04 14:46:00

Old news from Google News http://news.google.com
US health care not always best in world, study says

snippy 2004-05-04 13:33
"Go to an almanac (paper or online), and look up life expectancy by country. The US isn't at the top in North America (let alone in the world) and haven't been for a while."

One of the reasons is that the US counts the lives of premature babies, many of whom survive for only hours or days. Other countries (a) don't even attempt to save the youngest premies, and (b) don't count their lives in the life expectancy studies.

Naturally this pulls down our average.

dsgood 2004-05-05 16:22
Does this account for the US being behind Canada and the developed nations of Western Europe?

oursin 2004-05-04 13:33
US health care not always best in world
Is this news? I understand that (e.g.) the infant mortality rate in the USA is extraordinarily high for a developed nation and has been for some time.

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