Not only did I survive yesterday's inhalation of dangerous stinky mold spores, but I think they may have made me smarter . . . so see if you can follow me here, as I intend on explaining and connecting all the issues of the day in one sentence; in a previous post I discussed social psychologist Jonathan Haidt's theory on the difference between liberals and conservatives, and why liberals have such a hard time stomaching conservative values and understanding conservative perspective; first he breaks down social/political concerns into five categories:
and then he explains the results of his experiments: he has found that liberals care about number one and number two, while conservatives have a "five channel" moral system . . . and I find this to be true about myself-- if you take an issue like gay marriage, then I don't think it's fair to ban gay people from marrying, and why would I care anyway?-- it helps them and gay marriage doesn't harm me-- but conservatives will often have far more complex views about the sanctity and tradition of marriage-- which I could care less about-- or loyalty to their church or religion, or respect for authority figures who disdain gay marriage . . . again which is all stuff I would never even consider-- so take a typical liberal view and you'll see that conservatives have a lot more to worry about-- I just don't give a shit about things that conservatives care deeply about, and often find them silly, which makes me lack empathy for conservatives-- and it's a problem and I see no clear solution to it, even though I understand what I don't understand about conservatives-- but here is something I figured out: I think this five channel morality explains the reason conservatives fall for fake news and conspiracy theories far more than liberals-- which absolutely infuriates everyone on the left: this debate about what is real-- the fact that in America, people ask if you "believe" in global warming, like it's a religion-- and for some background, I recommend you listen to the new Planet Money: Finding the Fake-News King, because the fake-news king is actually quite smart (and a liberal) and was creating incredible fake-news stories first as a joke and then as a very lucrative profession, and he found that he couldn't make any money with liberal fake-news, it only worked on conservatives-- people on the left would quickly fact check the news and the fake-story would fizzle, but I don't think anyone has definitively explained why this is so-- until now! thanks mold spores!-- so here it is: conservatives are more likely to fall for fake-news because the stories trigger more of those five channels-- conservatives are more loyal, and thus more likely to trust something passed along to them from a friend or trusted source, conservatives are more likely to respect the authority of the internet and not go to Snopes or start fact-checking away, and conservatives find their views to be more pure and sanctioned, so they are more likely to buy more of the same . . . while liberals-- while callous and unsympathetic to many conservative views-- are also less likely to respect a source, or think of themselves as part of a big pure group that believes a certain thing . . . it's not that liberals never fall for fake news, but they often recognize that they are just "rooting for the clothes" and don't wholeheartedly believe in anything, so the fact that the right could push an email scandal into the media for the entirety of the election-- and that conservatives could focus on this issue for that long-- while a plethora of real issues like climate change and the fact that Trump is an anti-vaxxer who said NAFTA is terrible were pushed to the side . . . don't get me started-- anyway, that's why conservatives think liberals are nice people with bad ideas, and liberals think conservatives are horrible people with insane opinions, and that's why fake and silly news stories had such a profound effect on this election, and things aren't going to get better any time soon . . . because while I now understand this better, it's not helping me any, I still think it's crazy to care deeply about channels three through five, and I still think anyone who is getting their news from random Facebook feeds and passing it along is an idiot without any critical thinking skills . . . so maybe I need to sniff another batch of mold so I can figure out the next step.