The Real Split

What is the real defining split between conservatives and liberals? According to a recent article in Scientific American, research from the University of Pennsylvania indicates the fundamental difference is that “Conservatives tend to believe that strict divisions are an inherent part of life. Liberals do not.”

So… in practice this means that conservatives tend to be hierarchal absolutists, seeing all the elements of life as either black or white, and dividing elements of life into ranked categories with absolute bounds, while liberals are more likely to see things in shades of gray and to minimize categorical differences.

That’s why conservatives see gender as binary, despite the fact that every year babies are born with indeterminate sexual organs. And there’s been a fight over this as well, with the liberal side saying that one in a thousand children are born intersex, while the conservatives cite figures a hundred times smaller. But the plain fact is that there is a spectrum between genders, regardless of the numbers, and this spectrum has been found in 65,000 different species of animals as well.

The problem created by the conservatives is that they want to impose absolute rigidity, which is a form of despotism, because people are different, and in the United States there are definite sub-cultures, even within the smallest of least populated states, so that excessively rigid rules and laws are too restrictive and actually generate conflict.

On the other side, liberals too often fail to recognize that a working society simply can’t physically have and maintain the scope of laws and regulations to suit everyone perfectly, and there do have to be some limits.

13 thoughts on “The Real Split”

  1. Daze says:

    Australian Federal MP for North Queensland: “There are no homosexuals in North Queensland.” NB – this is AFTER his brother came out …

  2. R. Hamilton says:

    I noticed the small last paragraph, a very modest acknowledgement of balance.

    Part of the problem IMO is that assimilation (not absolute conformity, but a degree of social conformity) seems to have become a bad word, to the point that treating differences as desirable to continue and maximize, seems preferred to moderating or overcoming them or at least MUTUALLY agreeing to one’s separate ways without constant advocacy. I suspect the maximizing of differences (by either/any side) is about political power and not about anyone’s actual well-being, however many might have fallen for the idea that it is.

    The domestic power vacuum is supposed to be held mostly EMPTY rather than being divided into more constituencies each out for their own piece. That way, having little power over anyone other than oneself does not mean being downtrodden. And advocacy can be saved for things like learning CPR and the Heimlich maneuver (which one hopefully would use without first asking someone’s allegiances); and just like you don’t want candy manufacturers advertising in grade schools, the advocates can maybe back off too. No peaceful difference justifies violence or bullying (which must be consistently enforced!), and that’s all a grade school kid needs to know or practice in school regarding a variety of differences, the rest is up to their parents or whatever alternative advisor they may find, which is not the school’s job.

    1. Postagoras says:

      Once again you tell us what life would be like in your fantasy world.

      How about commenting on the actual reality that Mr. Modesitt talked about in the post? That Conservatives see things as binary absolutes, and demand that every else see things that way, too?

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Conservatives are not one big lump that see everything identically. I don’t give a hoot how anyone sees anything including themselves, IF they keep private things private (I don’t want to hear about how some straight person gets along with their spouse, either). I don’t like the mostly straight promiscuity of Mardi Gras any more than I like rainbow parades. Keep it private, it’s all TMI.

        And it could also be said that the far left (or many of them, certainly the most vocal among them) see things as either absolutely their way or as their enemy, with nothing in between; look at the vitriol including all the forbidden words they throw at minority members that oppose them.

        1. RRCRrea says:

          Then DON’T LOOK> The fact it’s EXISTENCE offends you is the problem. You don’t get to tell people what’s private and what’s not when you get to be the sole arbiter of that distinction. You have a responsibility to yourself to guard yourself against the things that you don’t like. No one can MAKE you eat green beans if you hate them. But to say that no one anywhere ever can have green beans, that seeing them in the store or on someone else’s plate is NOT OKAY is EXACTLY the problem. Seriously, if you want to live in a hole in the ground where everything pleases you, go build it. Then crawl into it. Block the exit. And leave the rest of us alone.
          The utter hilarity of someone who continually touts that they are “Conservative” then constantly wants to dictate what other people should and should not do indicates an internal hypocrisy of crushingly selfish proportions. If you call yourself a Conservative, BE a Conservative and start telling people to stop interfering in the affairs of others. Period. Full stop. Just… stop. Or, please, please, PLEASE, admit that you are precisely an apologist for the worst of the two bad extremes that author discusses.
          How you can enjoy his books is utterly beyond me.

        2. Wren Jackson says:

          No one is forcing you to view or discuss private matters. And that’s not the issue.

          I’m transgender, my spouse is non-binary. My saying this is not forcing anything. Meanwhile the right’s political leaders are literally on stage 8 of genocide against people like me.

          Who’s forcing what on who?

          1. R. Hamilton says:

            Hyperbole? I’m not aware that ANYONE ANYWHERE in ANY western country (except maybe that crackpot “church” that also disrupts the return of fallen military) is suggesting that the different should be purged or executed. That’d be Iran where that actually happens. Certainly no politician is suggesting anything approaching that, or significantly risking that. Even a 100% ban on transition or puberty blockers below 18 is probably NOT genocidal; and what I’ve seen about suicide rates with vs without transition seems less than clear cut. I don’t have a solid opinion on the puberty blockers one way or the other since medical guidance seems quite mixed, even among the sympathetic – apparently, too early, they can interfere with reassignment surgery…and the long-term complications, if someone wants to back out (rare, admittedly but non-zero), are unclear. I cringe at ANY elective surgery that’s not reconstructive (which I suppose someone feeling born misgendered might view that it is), based on a reading of older versions of the Hippocratic Oath; even cosmetic surgery seems like poor risk/benefit call, although people can pay to have anything they please done to them, even euthanasia in some jurisdictions . But I think that elective surgery below 18 should not happen probably at all, and never without both individual’s very informed consent and parent’s very informed consent, or a court order setting aside parent’s consent.

            Not getting 100.00% acceptance is NOT genocide, and systemic biases or not, nobody gets that anyway (not to deny that some get less than others by label or group or poverty or whatever). Not counting rare psychos that would look for anyone they could label as kill-able – if not someone of one sort of different, then someone of another that crossed them (and recent incident shows that psychos may not be not exclusive to the cis; psycho is an independent variable from other spectra), the only death risk I’ve ever heard alleged is increased risk of suicide, and the numbers there don’t look great regardless of support – and I think that suicide is ALWAYS an excuse or escape, not a solution. Life will NEVER be fair (and shouldn’t be – once in a very long while it’s better than fair, but not often), but ending it is accepting defeat. Even those conventional enough to make a fundamentalist smile have things that challenge us to CHOOSE to keep living, even when it feels like it’s a losing game, which it is eventually, nobody survives life, but no rush to get to the end, either. No promise of happiness either here or hereafter, just duty to keep on, make oneself at least occasionally useful, etc. Bitter hope, but better than none. Been there, thought about it occasionally but didn’t try it (I wouldn’t have botched it, and I’m here); after awhile, surviving becomes a habit, whether there’s a point on any given day or not.

            If you’re comfortable as who you are, I’m happy for you, but as a stranger, that’s not cause for celebration save that survival of anyone harmless is preferable to the alternative. To people I know (including some that match your description), I’ll show kindness for kindness (loyalty is personal to me, more than cause or group; a brief kindness by one person once is much of why I’m TRYING to be a bit gentler here than I might otherwise have been; I’m not that unusual, so hyperbole won’t always serve you well) and use their preferred pronouns as courtesy (but not endorsement of anything reality beyond their right to assert whatever they wish about themselves); but my sympathy with ANY stranger, even if all their descriptors are aligned with mine, is limited to preferring them alive rather than dead if they’re not violent felons or actual terrorists (who I’d like to see all permanently removed from society). And that they not be in front of me so much in traffic. (people, love ’em or not, too many)

            I support solid statements at regular intervals in schools or workplaces or wherever needed that violence and bullying will not be tolerated, and for that to be enforced as often as needed without favoritism. But the schools should, unless there is evidence a judge might acknowledge that the parents are abusive, stay out of personal matters and advocacy. “Put a cover on your private parts if you go there, in whatever way you do, and require your partner to do likewise if applicable” is probably good public health advice at some age (10 or 11 at the earliest, perhaps), among other things, but it does NOT require a long fruit or vegetable for demonstrations or any list of variations, and should be accompanied by pointing out that wise people do NOT give into peer pressure or curiosity and do NOT go there until they are at least 18 and have their own independent residence and income and some comprehension of consequences and responsibilities and economic liabilities; otherwise, they’re likely to greatly increase their risks and reduce their opportunities, perhaps for a lifetime (the full version of abstinence/Just Say No to sex as well as drugs).

            If there’s a spectrum or spectra, it will at least be imagined by many comfortably on one end of it that there are some who would be comfortable with the conventional but might be comfortable with something else, too. I think it would be a kindness to forgo political power and NOT to recruit them (definitely NOT at an age below the age of consent!), since regardless of political power or acceptance, conventional will ALWAYS have less external challenges. Some perceive the more expansive diversity programs entering schools as recruiting, and I think they might be forgiven that perception given some of the descriptions of such programs (even in their own words). If you want them to recognize that the vulnerable you relate to need protection, you need to acknowledge their concern too – they also think they’re protecting the vulnerable, and not walk right into it.

            Non-biological women in women’s sports is problematic either way, whether exclusion one way or unfairness (even danger, occasionally) the other. No answer can please everyone. Different organizations have drawn different lines, and consensus will take time.

            But neither DeSantis nor any other very red state politicians (nor someone very religious like former VP Pence) are trying to exterminate ANYONE, nor even knowingly to marginalize anyone to the point that they are at significantly greater risk. If you REALLY think that’s what they’re doing (try the more pragmatically useful courteous pretense that they don’t INTEND that result of what they’re doing), you have to cite specific circumstances and instances and laws and regulations and counter-examples…and tell THEM DIRECTLY (write letters, with a copy to whatever media might publish them) as well as engaging in whatever public conversations. And don’t expect more than the least change that will protect against the worst risks, because nobody gets everything they want, because nobody has everybody as allies, nor ever will; nobody likes change unless they see how THEY benefit from it, so that’s about all that can be reasonably hoped for.

          2. Wren Jackson says:

            Not Hyperbole, going off what people who are actual experts.

            Florida has made it illegal to admit to being lgbtqia+ to anyone under the age of 18, overruled the idea that a decision should be made between a patient, doctor and a parent. Made it legal to take children from people if they are “suspected” of being transgender.

            I’m not being hyperbolic. Look up the stages of genocide. We are at the point where people want us ID’s, non-existent, unable to get insurance or medical support… I’m not making anything exaggerated, I genuinely understand that if I were to step foot in Florida I risk them trying to steal my children. Or being arrested if I walk into a bathroom where a bunch of men won’t gawk at me…

            That you think it’s not that bad shows your privilege and your lack of attention.

          3. Wren Jackson says:

            I realize you are mistakenly thinking the term Genocide has to specifically be “Kill them” I apologize, I should educate, not blast past your ignorance. Scientifically there are 10 stages to Genocide. Only stage 10 is the actual eradication and murder of the targeted group.

            Stage 1: Classification: Used to “Other” a group. Stereotypes, rumors and division. Calling all LGBTQIA+ groomers, Predators, etc. Something the right’s narrative has been doing a while now.

            Stage 2: Symbolization: The idea that the group should be forced to wear something obvious. All the trans bathroom laws wanting to force based on birth assigned gender. How are those going to be enforced?

            Stage 3: Discrimination: Outlawing rights. Florida has made it so you can’t get medical treatment without the state government’s approval. Insurances can drop you for your sexuality or gender identity and some already have. You can be arrested for going into a bathroom that matches the gender you present as.

            Stage 4: Dehumanization: Again. “Groomer”, “Predators” etc. Some Politicians have called the LGBTQIA+ Community demons or mutants.

            Stage 5: Organization: Again, this is a major political party trying to push this agenda. Not a bunch of individuals.

            Stage 6: Polarization: Using media to spread the stage 2 and 4 things. How about mischaracterizing trans people on Fox? Tiktoks claiming Target is grooming Children?

            Stage 7: Preparation: All those laws in Florida are by a man running for President promising to make it national law. Similarly Trump has also promised to eradicate the LGBTQIA+ community.

            Stage 8: Persecution: Again, in Florida, it is legal for the government to kidnap your children if you are “Suspected” of being transgender or if the children are.

            Stage 9: Extermination

            Stage 10: Denial

            We are on stage 8, I am not exaggerating, I am not being hyperbolic. I am reporting the situation as defined by the Holocaust Museum and a historical view of what happened in 1930’s Germany.

  3. Tom says:

    … According to a recent article in Scientific American, research from the University of Pennsylvania indicates the fundamental difference is that “Conservatives tend to believe that strict divisions are an inherent part of life. Liberals do not.” …

    Reading that article made me wonder at the veracity of the data, particularly because of the insistence on finding “most basic beliefs” of people. Particularly because of this sort of opinion; “The interpretation of holy scriptures almost always includes human reasoning; different interpreters reach contradictory theories” in an article about “Humanism and Conservatism”; which compared the ‘theism’ of religious ‘beliefs’ with the similarly unsubstantiated political ‘beliefs’.

    I was interested enough to read Jer Clifton’s other articles and this one I found particularly interesting and much better written. “Managing validity versus reliability trade-offs in scale-building decisions” (June 2020 Psychological Methods 25(3):259-270) by Dr. Jeremy D.W. Clifton. The ends to which he goes to make psychological beliefs measurable and the factors which need to be balanced makes me “believe” that the Scientific American article findings are probably valid.

    Unfortunately his potential solution still seems flimsy at best: “To reach a point of cooperation—even amid intense disagreement—people often need to grasp other perspectives. Our work shows that conservatives and liberals disagree more about the meaning of differences than about the prevalence of danger. That insight may seem modest, but it’s a big step in the right direction.”

    1. R. Hamilton says:

      To the premise of the article, I’ve seen a variety of articles from sites that could be supposed to come from both sides (plus those who claim to be on a different axis of sides) only seem to agree that the definition and practice of conservative and liberal have varied quite a bit over time.

      Seems to me that polarization eliminating shades of gray MIGHT be more an attribute of one side than another, but usually comes from both sides; wouldn’t be much to push back against, otherwise. Equal and opposite reactions probably applies in politics and ideology too, over time.

      Also seems to me that labeling reflects the characteristics of the labeler more than the labeled.

      1. Mayhem says:

        The polarisation and shifting of the Overton window to the right in American political discourse is terrifying to an outsider.
        Keep in mind, the average “left wing” Democrat politician is basically a right wing candidate in most European political systems. Bernie Sanders is in reality a fairly typical centrist, and would fit into any ruling party across most of the western world. .
        The current Republican Party is beyond extreme right wing authoritarian, but the current democrats aren’t much better.

        A large part of that comes down to media reporting – the major news producers have effectively normalised extreme views through “mandatory both sides” journalism giving it legitimacy and an obsession with out of context soundbites.
        And most of those producers are controlled or owned by a small pool of people, and they got to set the agenda as they see fit. You functionally don’t have a left wing media any more, you have a few “less right wing”, a couple of finance driven ones, and the tabloids that just make shit up.

        1. R. Hamilton says:

          I’m not happy with using most European political systems as a standard for normalcy. My mom was born in Germany in the 1920’s, and still says that most people there do not deeply think of themselves as citizens but as subjects, where government gives, government takes away, government has something akin to the divine right of power claimed by monarchs. And that official credentials and the proper connections and accent count for far more than demonstrated ability. Having traveled and seen that for myself, I’m inclined to agree. I suppose Switzerland might be different in terms of people thinking for themselves more (different history).

          The Democrat’s saint JFK could pass for a Republican (not the most conservative, but well to the right of RINO) today. As much as where we are now, the _trend_ is what IMO alarms many on the right. OTOH, some things are getting pushback, which although it may not be kind to some seeing themselves as vulnerable, is perhaps about time in the sense that there should not BE a trend that satisfies only half the country, but rather a back and forth, albeit with some limits in either direction.

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