Saturday, November 06, 2004

'Values' and irrational epistemic pressures

Yglesias points to Freedman, who gives good evidence that the contribution of the 'values' issue to our electoral defeat is being overestimated on the left.

There's a good psychological explanation for why people like us would make exactly this mistake. According to the 'values' theory, the agents of our defeat are precisely those people whom we're the most opposed to -- religious nuts who hate gay people. In making our defeat the fault of our worst enemies, it attracts more credence than one would be justified in giving it.


Neil Sinhababu said...

I'm definitely in favor of the 'use moral rhetoric' point. It's one of the reasons why Edwards' ability to cast economic issues in moral terms appeals to me.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Mm. Yeah. Just to expand on the political theater point, I am not blind to the appeal of the media narrative that pits cosmopolitan New York liberals against Bible Belt fundamentalists. The media is not blind to it either.

Neil Sinhababu said...

Another nice thing about it -- the religious right was credited with delivering the election early on, and they'll be less likely to accept the recent debunking of that view than anyone else in their party. So they'll see themselves as deserving lots of goodies, even if the people handing out the goodies are doubtful. There is potential for conflict in this scenario.