Re: [asa] The Daily Me

From: wjp <>
Date: Sat Mar 21 2009 - 09:03:25 EDT

I don't think we needed a survey to confirm this.

What would be the point of associating with those of "different" opinions:
1) to try to show them wrong
2) to just hear what the other sides say
3) to test our own beliefs
4) to clarify our own position
5) to just be a pain in the neck
6) to find out what the other sides are planning

What would be the point of associating with those of "similar" opinions:
1) to confirm our own beliefs
2) to make fun of other sides
3) to sharpen our own opinions
4) to learn about new slants

I think we've seen all of this in any group.

Willard Van Orman Quine suggests that our beliefs are arranged into a web.
There are core beliefs and peripheral beliefs. It is always possible,
he says, to arrange our peripheral beliefs in order to keep our core
beliefs unchanged. He, though an empiricist, believes this is how
science works. How much more with other opinions?

So how does this dynamic work in our associating with groups?
Do we want our core, or more-core, beliefs challenged? Why would
we want to do that? How are core beliefs established? Core beliefs
govern how we get about in the world. They guide us in how we
interpret new inputs. Without them we stumble about, confused and
uncertain. Who wants to be uncertain?

I guess it takes a special kind of person to want to associate with
those of vastly different views. How does the intensity of our
beliefs influence this effect? How does the importance with which
we hold certain beliefs to be influence our associations?

Anyway, perhaps an interesting sociological question, ones that
none of us can escape.

bill powers
White, SD

On Sat, 21 Mar 2009 07:35:21 -0400, "Randy Isaac" <> wrote:
> I hope this link will work:
> It's an editorial by Nicholas Kristof in the March 19 NYTimes called The
> Daily Me.
> A couple of paragrahs caught my eye in particular:
> "...there's pretty good evidence that we generally don't truly want good
> information - but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may
> believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like
> to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.
> One classic study sent mailings to Republicans and Democrats...ostensibly
> from a neutral source. Both groups were most eager to receive intelligent
> arguments that strongly corroborated their pre-existing views.
> There was also modest interest in receiving manifestly silly arguments for
> the other party's views (we feel good when we can caricature the other guys
> as dunces). But there was little interest in encountering solid arguments
> that might undermine one's own position."
> I wonder if this isn't often reflected in the way blogs migrate to a
> dominant view over time. Yes, the occasional spat livens it up but in the
> long run it's hard to maintain a lively and intellectually sound spectrum
> of opinions. We then seek those that usually conform to our view. No
> wonder it is so hard for the ASA to thrive with a culture of diverse
> opinions. The tendency is for people to prefer to congregate with those
> who are like-minded. Yes, we all signed the statement of faith, but often
> we yearn for more like-mindedness, hence the appeal to form sub-groups.
> Randy

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Received on Sat Mar 21 09:04:07 2009

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