I don’t know why I believe the things I believe. I’d like to think I’ve thought them out rationally but probably I believe them because my parents believe them or because of tribalistic identifications I make or because Megan McArdle and Gregg Easterbrook don’t believe them (maybe this last one does fall under “thought them out rationally”).
Anyone who tells you that they’re sure they’ve come to their conclusions fairly and rationally is lying. Not lying that they’ve come to their conclusions fairly and rationally, but lying that they’re sure that they have. There’s no way to know. This was one of my favorite Atrios posts of all time:
You should be congratulated for choosing a candidate after carefully and rationally analyzing the situation.
Everyone else should be ashamed of themselves for letting their irrational emotions dictate their choices.
Of course, total belief in one’s own innate ability to be reasonable is one of the hallmarks of our contemporary Very Serious People. This from Andrew Sullivan almost made me laugh:
I’m not taking this position because – to count some of the milder terms thrown in my direction in the last few days – I have internalized homophobia, I want to leverage others’ suffering for web traffic, I have never done anything to advance gay equality, I am a hypocrite/privileged white male/barebacker/Uncle Tom, and on and on. I’m taking this position because it is my honestly thought-out view.
How can anyone claim to know this about themselves?
One of my favorite twists on this is the Very Serious Person who dismisses all his critics as uninformed partisans, but then screams LIBERAL ELITISM when anyone points out, say, that ignorance of where the Crimea is located correlates with support for US military involvement there:
— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) April 8, 2014
This is what makes things tough for conservative VSPs: the whole VSP thing is based on elitist condescension to the plebes, but many conservative arguments are based on the idea that reg’lar Murkinn plebes don’t need no book learnin’ to know better than their hippie overlords.