Monday, April 21, 2008

Partisan View and Rational Thinking

Facts don't change how people think or what they think. For people to process new data, alternate data and/or data that conflicts with their prevailing ideology, they must first be open to changing some aspect of their dominant constructs, belief system and/or ideology.

As this post explains:
  • You have to let your thinking be influenced by the best evidence you can find. Unfortunately, most people are unaccustomed to that way of thinking.
  • ...your thinking should always be based on the best evidence, not on your strong, pre-determined partisan views. If you can't accept that fact, you are in a fairly primitive stage of intellectual development.
  • (however)...even the best evidence can be wrong. This is another concept that people have trouble assimilating.
  • ...the truth is far more interesting than the partisan theory that prevents you from being rational when it comes to thinking about politically charged issues.
Taking one aspect of the truth, and making it your whole truth, means you are no longer dealing with the truth. Taking contextual information and framing it within the context of your ideological perspective may make the information more "newsworthy" or sensational, may grab people's attention and serve to raise their awareness, but ultimately, removed from its proper context, that information is of limited utility as it has lost its vitality, its robustness, the context that defines its truth.

Ecomyths invariably involve aspects of the truth that have become the whole truth to a particular advocate or advocacy group. They are difficult to curtail because was they have escalated to prominence, the data that would refute them are themselves rejected as contrary to people's beliefs.

People want to do well. They want to act in a moral fashion. Framing ecomyths as morally correct behavior firmly roots environmental advocacy in a dominant position within people's construct hierarchy.
The challenge to those not agreement with the myth is how to dis-lodge that construct once it is vested. To get people to view information rationally and not on the basis of their pre-disposition.

Conversely, the challenge for activists, is translating moral pre-disposition into action if and when an ecomyth runs contrary to a more dominant belief or construct -- like economic well-being or personal happiness. Hence, people will embrace eco-activity that sounds green but does not involve major lifestyle change far more easily than they will substantive change. (Earth Hour was easy. Recycling is easy. Lifestyle change and zero consumption are undesirable). Which is why environment always polls well with voters but is never a key determinant in come election time.