Do I disgust you?

posted by David Gibson

Then you’re probably a conservative.

But if you would slap me, then you’re probably a liberal. I think…

Nicholas Kristof has the latest science on how our political and cultural leanings are products of our neurons:

Would you be willing to slap your father in the face, with his permission, as part of a comedy skit?

And, second: Does it disgust you to touch the faucet in a public restroom?

Studies suggest that conservatives are more often distressed by actions that seem disrespectful of authority, such as slapping Dad. Liberals don’t worry as long as Dad has given permission.

Likewise, conservatives are more likely than liberals to sense contamination or perceive disgust. People who would be disgusted to find that they had accidentally sipped from an acquaintance’s drink are more likely to identify as conservatives.

Moreover, “talking it out,” like here on the blog, doesn’t help. It only reinforces our biases. Think it’s silly? Read on for what does work:

A start is to reach out to moderates on the other side — ideally eating meals with them, for that breaks down “us vs. them” battle lines that seem embedded in us. (In ancient times we divided into tribes; today, into political parties.) The Web site www.civilpolitics.org is an attempt to build this intuitive appreciation for the other side’s morality, even if it’s not our morality.

“Minds are very hard things to open, and the best way to open the mind is through the heart,” Professor Haidt says. “Our minds were not designed by evolution to discover the truth; they were designed to play social games.”

A very religious sentiment, one might say. Go ahead, take the test here.

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Charles Cosimano

posted May 29, 2009 at 12:36 am

If it disgusts social conservatives I’m in favor of it.

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posted May 29, 2009 at 9:55 am

I am always in groups where I am sure I am deemed the liberal. Who cares? But with or without permission I would never slap a parent. Or an elder. (Unless it is one of my beloved, but obnoxious brothers)
I am not convinced that one thing has anything to do with another. And since most “conservatives” I know are pro military, pro NRA (which I am too) and pro-death penalty; conversely, most liberals are anti the above and pro choice. Go figure. I think, in our desperation to figure it all out we come up with formulas that we assume can be “one size fits all”, and that only works for mumus.
As far as the constructive dialogue, I do find that moderates, (and I suppose I fall there) are more likely to be willing to have the discussion. The extremes on either side really only want to hear thier own views regugitated (sp?) or fight. That is the sad point. Imagine how much we could get done if we could be constructive. And I wholeheartedly believe this forum (blogging) only feeds the beast. Which is a shame because it really does a lot of good too.
Notice though, not many people jumped at the opportunity to say “truly” to the question posed in the title of this post, nor did they want to slap you. So there is always hope for civility in the end.

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Frank Clyburn

posted May 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Well, this article may have some truth to it. I don’t drink or eat from someone else’s dishes…..learned it from my mother. She didn’t identify with any political party and was convinced it was a waste of time….after this last election, my conclusion is she may have been right. None-the-less I do vote and tho an independent voter, I’m conservative….and I simply hate someone grabbing my cup and drinking out of it….disgusting! And especially since my coffee cup hasn’t been washed since Washington crossed the Delaware!! Why would someone do that…? It’s beyond me as well as why someone would kill their unborn baby…

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