Partisan and hyper-partisan behavior


There is nothing intrinsically wrong with partisanship. We often have to decide one way or the other on some issue and in the absence of any significant information that dictates how to choose, it is not unreasonable for people to align themselves with ‘their’ side, with those with whom they feel generally close to on most issues.

But hyper-partisanship, in which ideas and policies are supported and opposed based purely on who is advocating them, that overrides your own judgment and is irrespective of any information that is known and goes against that choice, is absurd.

Take for example the conservative opposition to fighting the causes of climate change. That has always been a bit of a puzzle. Some religious people feel that god will not let Earth be destroyed and so we need not worry, the big guy will make sure everything is fine. But not all the opposition is religiously motivated. There also seems to be a sense among some that those sounding the warnings about the danger of climate change are pursuing some sort of agenda that must be opposed at all costs, even though no one can say exactly what that nefarious agenda is or who might be benefiting from it and in what way.

A recent study finds evidence of this skewed way of thinking, and that “In a real-choice context, more conservative individuals were less likely to purchase a more expensive energy-efficient light bulb when it was labeled with an environmental message than when it was unlabeled.” So they liked the energy efficient light bulb until they told that it helped the environment.

Stephen Colbert also commented on this hyper-partisan behavior, pointing out that it does not affect only one partisan faction.

(This clip was aired on May 8, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

Comments

  1. mnb0 says

    “So they liked the energy efficient light bulb until they told that it helped the environment.”
    Congratulations. I am officially speechless.

  2. atheist says

    Take for example the conservative opposition to fighting the causes of climate change. That has always been a bit of a puzzle. Some religious people feel that god will not let Earth be destroyed and so we need not worry, the big guy will make sure everything is fine. But not all the opposition is religiously motivated. There also seems to be a sense among some that those sounding the warnings about the danger of climate change are pursuing some sort of agenda that must be opposed at all costs, even though no one can say exactly what that nefarious agenda is or who might be benefiting from it and in what way.

    Read Naomi Klein, “Capitalism vs. the Climate” – she’s all over it. In a nutshell, if the human race is gonna survive global warming, we are gonna need to alter our economic system, and conservatives are smart enough to figure that out.

  3. eigenperson says

    Given the way that particular study was conducted, an alternative explanation is that people assumed the CFL came with the free “Protect the Environment” sticker was because it was a piece of junk and such a gimmick was necessary to convince people to buy it.

  4. says

    I’d add that hyper-partisan behavior can sometimes be seen at it’s worst in radical or quasiradical liberal enviroments, where from time to time one sees the claim that the only important fact about somebody is their alignment with or against the oppressed of the earth, regardless of plans, likelyhood of working, likelyhood of collateral damage, etc.

  5. atheist says

    So picture it: here you are, with your God who says the feminine Earth was created for your consumption, and with your demigod The Market, who subtly alters everything on Earth to fit the needs of you and your people. Then, this competing cult called the “Greens” gets popular, and they say that the Earth isn’t for your consumption, and that The Market isn’t a demigod and it does not always work in the interests of the people. For a certain kind of believer, the Green Cult is a frightening competing religion whose gods and statements must be destroyed as a matter of faith.

  6. lochaber says

    eigenperson> I’d like to believe that what you proposed was the case, but I’ve spent way too much time in various ultraconservative environs, and unfortunately, all too many of these folk will actively oppose anything that is portrayed as ‘environmental’. Most of these folk wouldn’t care one way or the other about some turtle, until they learn that it’s got some level of federal protection, and that this occasionally causes interruptions in some military drills on Southern Californian military bases.

    Most of the people I met while in the infantry, would gladly take any excuse given to sleep a couple extra hours vs. sitting out in the desert sun in full gear, so long as it doesn’t involve an endangered/threatened species. 5-ton pops a tire or gets a coolant leak, all’s cool – extra down-time, admin-style. Someone spots a desert tortoise – fukkin libertards destroying the country. or something, i dunno, i was just glad that i got to keep sleeping…

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