Will Wilkinson writes,

It turns out politics not only makes us stupid. It also makes us callous.

He cites a study showing that we are less likely to project our own feelings on those with whom we have political disagreements. It’s actually hard to summarize, so read the whole post.

I am definitely not a fan of partisanship after reading Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind. In Kansas City, I said that when one side calls intellectual fouls on the other side, this has a value of zero at most. The problems with calling the other side’s fouls, as opposed to your side’s fouls:

–you may be misjudging. Often, one makes the most uncharitable interpretation possible of what the person on the other side really meant.

–even if you are calling that foul correctly, the other side may be correct over all, and you are blinding yourself to that

–even if you are completely right, the net effect of pointing out the foul may be to make the other side angrier; rather than conceding, they will look for fouls they can call on you.

If your goal is to accumulate a fan base and fire them up, then of course calling intellectual fouls on the other side is the way to go. However, I claim that if your goal is to contribute to a discussion in which fair-minded people will consider changing their minds, then calling the other side’s intellectual fouls does not get you very far.

I should emphasize that I have come to this view only recently, after reading Haidt’s book.