The researchers found that being intolerant of ambiguity is associated with such conservative characteristics as unwavering certainty and strong loyalty to particular people and positions.
Conservatives don’t feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions. They are more comfortable seeing and stating things in black and white.…
THE DRAWBACKS OF AVOIDANCE
As much as those on the Right seek to avoid ambiguity, nuance, and examination of the various complexities of most significant social, political, and economic issues, the resistance to acknowledging the potentially drastic impacts and implications of a peak in oil production and climate change cannot be fairly or honestly explained in a sentence or two. Our 21st Century planet is not exactly a black and white/either-or/yes-no world.
Of course, that immediately presents a bit of a challenge. Being pre-disposed to ignoring or dismissing any set of facts which create cognitive dissonance [or stimulate the fear they are actually trying to avoid], may offer some comfort, but….For those ensconced inside their denial bubbles, choosing to ignore the very information they’ll need to manage the conditions which arouse those very fears is a curious approach.
The conservative inclination to “cut to the chase” in decision-making and policy-making is a time-saver, to be sure! But once we get beyond kindergarten or first grade problem-solving, avoiding the complexities of modern society’s greatest challenges [with the myriad perspectives, differences, needs, purposes, and expectations which contribute to both the challenges and the solutions] by cutting to the chase is at its very best intellectually lazy. Actually, it’s counterproductive in the extreme.
PROBLEMS WON’T JUST DISAPPEAR
Those many components of the many complex challenges we face now or will soon enough won’t go away because some choose to ignore them. They simply drag the problem-solving process down that much more. They ignore complexity at their peril, and the failure to appreciate that complexity leads to the very outcomes they fear and object to the most. The point being…?
The likelihood of making matters worse increases exponentially the greater and broader the subject matter. Reducing complexities to simplistic conclusions has some advantages and reduces intellectual or psychological distress, but if effective and enduring problem-solving is the objective, this approach falls woefully short. We’ll all pay the price.
To the extent that an important issue is presented to people in a way that makes it appear especially complex, rather than motivating increased individual effort at addressing that issue, it may elicit increased dependence on the government [my note: or their preferred media and other influential voices]….
[M]aintaining unfamiliarity is an ideal way to protect the psychologically comfortable (even if inaccurate) belief that the government [my note: or their preferred media and other influential voices] is taking care of the problem.
THIRD-PARTY SOURCES: RISKS
We’re all bombarded on a daily basis with a variety of informational sources. Few of us—if any—are not ideologically skewed in some fashion so as to promote specific self-interests. Each of us only has a certain bandwidth available to seek and then digest what we need, competing as those sources are with the countless other demands daily living imposes on us all. Polarization facilitates the process by offering us only a slice of preferred information to satisfy our short-term needs, enabling us to solidify our beliefs, motivations, and understandings with like-minded others.
No one can deny that they don’t make use of their own preferred sources at least on occasion if not full-time. While there are obvious benefits in relying on information assimilated by others, we are also both ceding control over what we receive and risking acquisition of misinformation of one kind or another from those who may not necessarily have similar interests and pursuits.
In order to satisfy our inherently short attention spans it supplies only the amount of information we want, which generally is not that much.
So just as we need more information to figure out complex risk issues, we’re getting less.
In matters of either great complexity or broad impact, a quick turn to the familiar and/or latching on to the first bit of evidence arguably supportive of one’s position—in the process dismissing any other information—and/or jumping to premature conclusions thus carries a certain amount of risk. Shocking, perhaps, but there are times when those tactics are both wrong and entirely counter-productive if resolution is an objective.
So while few of us have the opportunity, means, or capabilities to immerse ourselves in those broader public conversations and policies, we should at a minimum expect that whatever our level of understanding or awareness, it is the product of an honest and complete dissemination of facts and concerns which will affect us—if not today, then soon enough. Truth still matters, although at times one wonders….
Idealistic perhaps, but it would be nice if we didn’t have to plead for truth-telling, full disclosures and just enough courage to work together to solve problems rather than expending so much energy to pretend they don’t exist.
~ My Photo: Eastern Point Sunset, Gloucester MA © 08.04.11
We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Former USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
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Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being