Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Article: The “Other” is but a Foil for the Self

I have been thinking about the topic of "tribal signalling," that is, the methods we use to signal to members of our tribes that we belong.

Once one realizes that this is common, the reason for most posts and tweets on social media become obvious.

At any rate, I Googled tribal signalling and found this article which I found enlightening.
There are three reasons to be skeptical of just about any conversation that hinges heavily on professed interest in the well-being of strangers: 
1. Low information: We aren’t there; we aren’t on the ground; we don’t know these people and what they’re really going through. We’re getting our information second or third or more-hand. There is always a good chance that we are completely wrong. 
2. No negative impact from being wrong: If I advocate for a water-conservation strategy for California that turns out to be totally wrong, Californians will suffer, not me. If I advocate a bad foreign policy position, foreigners will suffer, not me. If I advocate for laws that harm people or businesses in Indiana, I remain unharmed.
3. People don’t really care about strangers: Most people care deeply about their close friends and family, their pets, and some groups they identify with, like “Harley riders,” “Linux users,” or Muslims. They don’t actually care that much about strangers. The average American, for example, spends more money feeding cats than feeding starving children in Africa. 
...[I]f socially signalling group membership is of direct benefit to the individual (which it generally is,) then people will signal group membership by saying whatever is useful to say about others–and reality be damned.
Although one place I would qualify. He seems to imply that stating opinions about people or their situations that one is not familiar with is wrong. It is, if one does not have an external standard of objective truth to compare the people or behavior to.

If one has an external, objective truth that murder is wrong and mass murder is very wrong, one has a basis, then, for condemning totalitarian mass murder. Otherwise, one is merely expression an unsupported opinion based on an emotional state.

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