More on ideology

by Russ Roberts on October 18, 2011

in Truth-seeking & ideology

I hope to write more on the dogmatic nature of economists. In the meanwhile, here are some interesting and relevant thoughts from Nathan Bashaw (HT: Hacker News 20):

When political events occur, our first impulse is to try to fit it in a box. We hear that something has happened, and we efficiently make up our mind about what it means and whether or not we agree.

In fact, neuroscientists have recently discovered that the part of our brains we use when making decisions about politics is totally different from the part we use when trying to solve reasoning problems. To see if this makes sense to you, first imagine yourself having a political discussion with someone who disagrees with you, and then imagine yourself attempting to work with a colleague to solve a complex problem at the office. Does your brain feel the same in both cases? Probably not.

Of course, my ideology about ideology finds this appealing…

His ending is particularly insightful:

Ideology is a double edged sword. Without it, you have no drive to create solutions to problems. But for every belief you integrate into your identity, you’re closing off possibilities. It creates mental shortcuts so we don’t have to spend time evaluating and deciding. The trick seems to be finding the right balance between doubt and belief, between seeing the world anew and applying old ideas.


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