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The real difference between liberals and conservatives - Comments

beanson's Avatar Comment 1 by beanson

So liberals are fairer and less authoritarian- I could have told him that, but isn't it a chicken/egg scenario and wouldn't it be more appropriate to say that ones innate feelings of justice led one to being politically liberal rather than viewing the correllation between liberality and fairness as novel data?

But we need the right wing- it's a yin/ yang duplicity apparently- well thanks for making that assertion- I see no evidence or even sound reasoning to back it up, just a diffident falling in with wishy-washy semi-religious notions-

this 'lecture' sounds to me like so much guff

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:23:00 UTC | #236989

Grantaire of JC's Avatar Comment 2 by Grantaire of JC

Religion was designed to make people cohere and work on social advancement..,well said. But are the conservatives ready to give up their comfort zone in religion, I think not. So much sense of fairness and justice is tied up in the belief of a higher entity rewarding/punishing people, that the loss of the belief system would rock their foundations to the core.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:24:00 UTC | #236990

robotaholic's Avatar Comment 3 by robotaholic

Not to be rude to anyone on this site who may read this and not in reference to any particular person here either... I've noticed that plenty of liberals are hypocrits, more emotional, and they are totally condescending too!

Oh and I'm liberal lol

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:41:00 UTC | #236996

kev_s's Avatar Comment 4 by kev_s

How many "conservatives" are capable of stepping out of their side of the 'moral matrix'? Since there were only 8 "conservatives" in the audience, I don't imagine they are interesting in listening to this kind of message.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 22:49:00 UTC | #236999

banzaib's Avatar Comment 5 by banzaib

It's an interesting and valid proposition he's making. Notice how his mentioning religious philosophies and figures makes us(atheists) want to shut him off/down.
I do think that both liberals and conservatives need to get more of a bird's eye veiw of their respective positions to see where they've made false or meaningless assumptions.
I think the clearest path to that is to know more about ourselves. What are we? What is it that drives us? How well do those drives serve us and how well do they lead us to harm?
If you haven't read the Blank Slate (Steven Pinker) yet, I urge you to do so.
We all should move on from the God/No God question. For most anyone on this website that is a done deal. Going over and over it and bashing religious people, gets boring after a while. And in the context of this video looks just like ingroup/outgroup fighting.
I do think religion is most likely the largest barrier between the liberal conservative divide, but it's not the only one. And religious people are not the only ones with dogmatic positions on issues.
Read the Blank Slate and see where it takes you. It's been the most interesting part of this whole ride for me.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:05:00 UTC | #237004

banzaib's Avatar Comment 6 by banzaib

By the way...

I really think this should be a FEATURED ARTICLE rather than "Latest News"

Are you out there Josh?

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:08:00 UTC | #237005

beanson's Avatar Comment 7 by beanson


Why should we move on from the God/No God question, why should anyone of us wink at superstition, turn a blind eye to willful ignorance. This is the 21st century, it's laughable and extremely sad at one and the same time that these delusions persist. We must continually look at how to diminish the grip of these ruinous ideologies

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:16:00 UTC | #237007

Barry Pearson's Avatar Comment 8 by Barry Pearson

#250059 by banzaib: We all should move on from the God/No God question.

In my page "Dimensions of enlightenment" I pose the question: "I am a scientifically-literate atheist. Guess who I would rather have as neighbours:

- On one side: a scientifically-illiterate arts-teacher who believes in pluralism and human rights and representative government, or an authoritarian scientist who favours restricting people's rights in order to censor objections to research.

- On the other side: a privately-religious tolerant secularist, or an intolerant totalitarian dogmatic atheist."

Even scientifically-literate atheists need better measures for societies, organisations, and people than how scientific or atheist they are!

My model for coexistence is "Religions are hobbies", rather than "eliminate religions". We may prefer people to get rid of delusions and evidence-free faith, but that is centuries away, if ever.

We need something in the meantime:

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:31:00 UTC | #237012

a non e-moose's Avatar Comment 9 by a non e-moose

saw this a few days ago. I think he's full of shit.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:35:00 UTC | #237014

BrandySpears's Avatar Comment 10 by BrandySpears

Wow, the 14th Dalai Lama has moral humility? Isn't that the little old man in the robes that declared major fund raisers Richard Gere and Steven Segal were "holy" on one of his many trips to Hollywood? The same man that met with Shoko Asahara, whose cult Aum Shinrikyo released sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway system? Where was the moral humility when amputations were practiced on the serfs of Tibet? Alas, the Dalai Lama is allowing the Tibetan people to vote on his "rebirth", which he says, will not be in China. Humility? None.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:47:00 UTC | #237017

suffolkthinker's Avatar Comment 11 by suffolkthinker

Am I the only European who is fed up with the way Americans seem to have hijacked the term "liberal" as a code for left wing?

There is a long liberal tradition in Europe both politically and socially that does not map onto the American use of the word as a code for "socialist". Liberal Economic Policy used to mean a "Free Market" laissez faire approach. Politcal parties that embodied free market economics combined with laissez fair moral policies also have a long tradtion (e.g. the old Liberal Party in the UK or the Free Democrats in Germany).

Probably a lost cause in American but perhaps we might just be able to hold the line on this side of the pond.

Thu, 18 Sep 2008 23:54:00 UTC | #237020

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 12 by Fanusi Khiyal

*blood pressure rising*

This is such unmitigated bullshit that I find it hard to believe.

"Openess" is a trait of the left? Really? This is the same left that has instituted those idiotic 'speech codes' on campuses, that has made it essentially criminal to criticize Islam, is muzzling free speech, hounded Ayaan Hirsi Ali out of the Netherlands Parliment...

Need I go on? Why, I do think I shall!

In-group/out-group thinking is apparently 'conservative', especially when it is used, quelle horreur, to fight other people. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out, there are always those who are willing to make use of those ingroup loyalties to get what they want, meaning you have to use them to defend yourself.

As regards "delusional", hmmm... - you might want to check in which political area the 9/11 conspiracy kooks are found.

The "moral matrix" - lovely phrase. In other words, it's a virtue not to know right from wrong, not to know can't from shouldn't. And no, this isn't just something about pornography and so forth - a moral sense is what gives you the strength to stand up when push comes to shove as it does.

Or you can step out of the moral matrix and end up like certain impeccably liberal professors in Norway and Australia explaining to rape victims that it was really their fault as they didn't bother to understand the culture the, ahem, "youths" came from. It's this sort of cringing, amoral, spineless cowardice that got us Shariah in great britain.

Now here it goes:

1) Liberals question authority. Really? Ever tried questioning the "Islam is peace" bullshit with a liberal? Ever try pointing out what socialism has always caused? Ever try explaining what the National Socialist Workers Party's manifesto actually was, and on which side of the political spectrum it lands?

2) "Liberals speak for the weak and oppressed" - question: which side of the politcal spectrum formed common cause with the Kurds in Saddams Iraq? Which side of the political spectrum has stymied all efforts to prevent the genocide in the Sudan by demanding we go through the UN?

3) From what I can make out it's a bad, baaaaad thing to be for or against anything. Well, excuse me I happen to be for women's emancipation and against treating them like slaves. I happen to be for freedom and against slavery, and I have no problems saying that those who practice slavery in the Sudan and Mauritania should be burned from the face of the planet.

I imagine that gets this prissy little bitch screaming.

"Do you accept stepping out of the battle of good and evil?"

NO, I fucking DON'T! In case this goddamn idiot hasn't noticed it this is what is going on right now. Or how else do you describe this conflict? What else can you call the massacre of two million Christians and animists in the Sudan? Or the conditions of life in Saudi Arabia? Or the killing of the entire Shia Hazara in Afghanistan?

I'm sorry, I don't think I can continue watching this mindless drivel without blowing a fuse.

What utter balderdash. Here's my basic difference between liberal and conservatives:

A conservative has realized that there's a real world out there, where real people live and die and suffer, and that that real world isn't amenable to our wishes. A liberal believes the whole world should mold itself to his narcissism,

Completely unfair, I'm sure, and there are bound to be many objections, exceptions etc. but if you're going to put up with crap like this, you can put up with my counter blast.

Josh I submit that this has no part on a site that's principally devoted to the destruction of religion. Or else post something from a conservative atheist point of view (you'll find a lot from, say, the Ayn Rand Institute).

Or is there some new rule that atheists must be leftists? That they have to swallow the whole suicide package of modern liberalism in one go?

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:12:00 UTC | #237027

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 13 by Laurie Fraser

Hahaha - Fanusi, old chap - I just KNEW this would get your dander up! (And every word the pure truth, brother!)

Or is there some new rule that atheists must be leftists?

Yeah, haven't you read the RD rulebook lately? Rule no 2: "Thou shalt have no other gods before Charles Darwin and Karl Marx"

Jeez, get with the program, Fan...

P.S. Josh, don't listen to him; he's just an old curmudgeon.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:19:00 UTC | #237037

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 14 by Fanusi Khiyal

Laurie, actually very little of it is truth, as I pointed out in my post.

Now, the question is: is this a 'clear thinking oasis'? Or is this just another site for left wing demagoguery?

As I said, if you want to balance that nonsense out with something from right-wing atheists, great. But to present this junk as, as it were, gospel, is, deeply dishonest.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:22:00 UTC | #237042

atp's Avatar Comment 16 by atp

I see some people took the opportunity to take the blue pill, and instead of "stepping out of the moral matrix" use this to strengthen their feeling of "we are better than them".

>Am I the only European who is fed up with the way Americans seem to have hijacked the term "liberal" as a code for left wing?

Absolutely not. I'm from Norway, and in many ways I think of the right wing as more liberal in the sense that it is the political left wing who wants to have laws and regulations everywhere, and it's the right wing who prioritize individual rights and freedom.

Also it's the left wing who seems to demand conformity in moral and ways of thinking, are claiming moral authority and are the quickest to condemn those who have other ideas and ways of thinkng than themselves.

Take a trip to Norway and say you support Bush, and you'll see how liberal left wing norwegians are when it comes to people who think differently than themselves. Actually, when I think about it, from reading som american forums liberals in the united states are not very liberal in this context either.

I am not saying that conservatives are better! Only that those who claim to be liberal is often not. They're liberal when it comes to their chosen subjects, and not very accepting of those who not hold the same values.

I see this post started drifting. To sum up, liberal and conservative is not a very good divition between left wing and right wing outside america.

And from my very superficial knowledge of america and what I've seen of liberals discussing conservatives, it doesn't seem to be very fitting in america either.

I think if you really are liberal at mind, you shouldn't need to take the red pill. You should already be understanding and accepting when it comes to people who have different political views and moral than yourself.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:25:00 UTC | #237049

BrandySpears's Avatar Comment 15 by BrandySpears

Fanusi, who canonized this article? Sorry, I couldn't resist.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:25:00 UTC | #237048

Laurie Fraser's Avatar Comment 17 by Laurie Fraser

To be serious, for a second, I don't think that Haidt was promoting any sort of agenda here. I've actually been following some of the threads of his, and others, investigations for some time, and there are some genuine findings from a lot of wide-ranging research that do point to affective differences between the "liberal" and the "conservative" mind (although I'd hesitate to paint with such broad brush-strokes.)

I certainly don't think that Haidt is necessarily a left-wing demagogue ; shit, there's plenty of others who are heroes of mine.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:27:00 UTC | #237051

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 18 by Fanusi Khiyal

I don't think that Haidt was promoting any sort of agenda here.

Are you serious? He was all but saying liberals walk on water, while all conservatives cast their first born into a giant bronze statue of Bush.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:31:00 UTC | #237056

Not the Messiah's Avatar Comment 19 by Not the Messiah

I think the important thing to take away from this lecture is the entreaty not to view our preference for either novelty and change on the one hand, or familiarity and stability on the other, as an issue of right vs. wrong. It's true that a society needs both impulses working in tandem to survive and grow.

To a jaundiced eye this talk seems to be straying into the dangerous quagmire of moral relativism, but I don't think it's being wishy-washy to appreciate how respect for authority, and loyalty to the group can be the cornerstones of morality for some individuals. They are gifts of our evolutionary past as much as our curiosity, altruism and lust.

When you label someone a f*cktard, when you spew forth venom and heap scorn upon them, and dismiss their views as stupid, evil or insane, you're speaking from within the moral Matrix that Jonathan Haidt talks about. Stepping outside it for a moment can only increase your understanding of your fellow human beings.

I'm a huge fan of the TED talks btw, there's a Youtube Channel you can subscribe to with hundreds of talks on a huge range of topics to challenge your presumptions and expose you to new ideas... Which I guess makes me a liberal after all :)

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:09:00 UTC | #237088

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 20 by rod-the-farmer

Re # 3. Comment #250051 by robotaholic

Not to be rude to anyone on this site who may read this and not in reference to any particular person here either... I've noticed that plenty of liberals are hypocrits, more emotional, and they are totally condescending too!

From my experience, you could just as well substitute "conservatives" for liberals in the last sentence.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:11:00 UTC | #237089

Kimpatsu's Avatar Comment 21 by Kimpatsu

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:11:00 UTC | #237090

HunterZolomon's Avatar Comment 22 by HunterZolomon

Absolutely not. I'm from Norway, and in many ways I think of the right wing as more liberal in the sense that it is the political left wing who wants to have laws and regulations everywhere, and it's the right wing who prioritize individual rights and freedom."

Hear, hear!! I'm from Sweden and I share that sentiment. The Scandinavian political spectrum is generally far more leftist than the US one.

Though in my experience, left or right has little to do with how "open" you are to new ideas and experiences. Both political groups have their fundamentalist, irrational retards.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:13:00 UTC | #237092

Beachbum's Avatar Comment 23 by Beachbum

Wow- and I don't even care which is what! Anti-theist without a doubt, but a clear line between liberal and conservative. Just consider it a pause to self evaluate before jumping to conclusions on any particular topic. Control vs. Openness, to other viewpoints.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:49:00 UTC | #237107

theonlybap's Avatar Comment 24 by theonlybap

suffolkthinker, atp, and HunterZolomon,

I'm from the US, and I agree!

But wikipedia (yeah...) splits Liberalism up into many different groups, it's ridiculous. Anyway, no point to argue definitions. But it is confusing to people when I tell them my views align with Liberalism, then find out I really like capitalism and laissez-faire economics.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 01:53:00 UTC | #237108

JemyM's Avatar Comment 25 by JemyM

This is pretty much the subject that I have chosen to dedicate my life to. I have already begun to answer ideologies/religions survival rate based on natural human emotions and needs. I have already accepted that there are grains of truth in liberalism, conservatism, socialism and even in the five world religions and if you really want to learn about a societys survival rate you owe yourself to read them all along with psychology.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:20:00 UTC | #237126

memphis matt's Avatar Comment 26 by memphis matt

sam harris has a nice response to this:

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:36:00 UTC | #237130

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 27 by Fanusi Khiyal

Thanks, memphis. Sam Harris is a very smart man and is able to understand that there is such a thing as good and evil, right and wrong.

Does forcing women and girls to wear burqas make a positive contribution to human well-being? Does it make happier boys and girls? More compassionate men? More confident and contented women? Does it make for better relationships between men and women, between boys and their mothers, or between girls and their fathers? I would bet my life that the answer to each of these questions is "no." So, I think, would many scientists. And yet, most scientists have been trained to think that such judgments are mere expressions of cultural bias. Very few of us seem willing to admit that simple, moral truths increasingly fall within the purview of our scientific worldview. I am confident that this period of reticence will soon come to an end.

I hope so, Sam, I hope so.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:41:00 UTC | #237133

Sally Luxmoore's Avatar Comment 28 by Sally Luxmoore

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 02:52:00 UTC | #237137

TIKI AL's Avatar Comment 29 by TIKI AL

Don't take the red pill unless you want to blog standing up for a few days. They are made from concentrated chili peppers.

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 03:22:00 UTC | #237141

Vaal's Avatar Comment 30 by Vaal

Hmmm, Sally, am I just being cynical or is it that Obama is just considering the atheist vote in a close run contest. After all, even at the most pessimistic estimate atheists consist of 10% (30 million people) of the population, and I suspect that it is probably closer to 40%. Most of the other politicians seem keen to demonize atheists, even that clown Bush who openly admits that he regard atheists as non-US citizens, even though he took an oath to uphold the US constitution on the separation of the Church and the State (hypocrite).

So before we get carried away, let's read our bibles. Folks haven't been reading their bibles

Hmmm, why should he be encouraging people to read their bibles, why not Confucius or Shakespeare?

Still, I suppose in that context, he is raising consciousness, so that can only be a good thing. I do suspect myself that Obama is an agnostic, and is treading the yellow brick road of lip service to Christian evangelism to ensure election.

EDIT: Mind you, that idiot pastor of Obama's would turn the Pope into an atheist (if he isn't already).

Fri, 19 Sep 2008 03:25:00 UTC | #237143