11 Comments

Individual incentives matter. The great error of all social engineers is the belief systems can be designed to perform a certain way without consideration of the incentives individuals have. The Left envisions communities where people's lives are not disrupted by punishment (arrested by police or disciplined at school). But communities without discipline result in people choosing to be antisocial because they can benefit and get away with it. The community is spoiled due to the lack of punishment for bad behavior.

Similarly, the Right envisions financial agents will not exploit loopholes for personal gain. But of course people will exploit loopholes! Not everyone, but enough people will cut corners that without the threat of punishment the system of free and competitive commerce will falter.

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“In doing so, we hope to explain one “side” to the other in order to foster more fruitful conversations and solutions.” Casting pearls before the swine. No point talking to people who aren’t listening. Social Justice Warriors don’t do listening or dialogue. We are right - shut up Fascist! Their solution to inequality is to use inequality to level society and keep it level.

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"A lot people see that as a goal of my book. And maybe it was when I first wrote it in 2013. Although I think the goal was more to point out that the simplistic framing along the three axes is intellectually barren and not conducive to constructive debate."

If it came from anyone but the author I could easily dismiss this opinion. Given the source I clearly don't understand something.

"In any case, by the time I wrote the third edition, I was more keenly aware that most people don’t really want constructive debate:"

I hope you are wrong about this. I prefer to assume they just don't know any better. That said, there was at least some negative reaction on the left to Haidt's book. That weakens my position.

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People on the "oppressor-oppressed" axis are not there as the result of any process of rational analysis of society. Seeing all of society as a structure of oppression is crudely simplistic and highly irrational. As Hamlet said, "There are more things in heaven and earth...than are dreamt of in your philosophy. That viewpoint serves rather as a vulgar display of piety.

Arnold's hopes that he might facilitate productive dialogue with such people seem unrealistic.

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Thou thinkest, tool much.....when you critic your criticism. How could we have gotten where we are if we didn't listen to one another's point of view. So just put it out there and it will resonant some where. The seed has been planted.

Cheers

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A noble, but rare, goal to strive for constructive dialog. We homo sapiens have a great big cerebellum fully capable of rational assessment and thoughtful perspective but cognitive bias almost always seems to overrule that capability. We may, in fact, be “hard-wired” to such a degree that it’s very difficult to change our minds when facing evidence contradicting our priors. I’m not a neuroscientist but like to try and understand how humans behave (part of why I enjoy your series on human interdependence). Huberman refers to studies where dopamine is released in our brains when “our prior beliefs are confirmed.” (https://twitter.com/hubermanlab/status/1431599271770353664?lang=en) If this is so, then the cards are stacked against us for persuading our opponents to change their impervious minds. And, we should look in the mirror on this topic as well.

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May 21, 2023·edited May 21, 2023

I don't think it is right or productive to put the two viewpoints on an equal footing.

The social justice people make the assumptions that the identities of who is oppressor and who is oppressed are fixed by history at some past date they determine arbitrarily, and can never change; and that all discrimination or even criticism of an "oppressed" person by an "oppressor" is both undeserved and malicious. It is simply not possible to honestly believe either of those propositions.

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Why we disagree ... Resonates. It is interesting how both extremes are drawn to the oppressor/victim interpretation of events, disagreeing only about who is the oppressed and who is the oppressor.

My approach is to try to decentralize debates, focus on narrower problems where distributional issues (oppressor/victim) issues can at least be seen in the context of pareto improvements.

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Yea. I think about the truckers convoy in Canada and how that doesn't sit particularly well with the civilization-barbarism axis/axles (lol). The convoy in Ottawa would at least approximate the disturbance of the sideshows that have plagued the bay area lately + massive loitering.

Matt Walsh outright said the truckers convoys, while disruptive in an urban setting ala BLM and antifa (though admittedly not as bad or sustained), were his kind of people, so he'll give them a pass.

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But neither should get a pass. My consternation with the response to truckers in Ottawa why they did not just get fines and some towed if they were in no parking zones.

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