Friday, December 21, 2012

Stereotype Politics

A friend linked me to this research article:

The Moral Stereotypes of Liberals and Conservatives: Exaggeration of Differences across the Political Spectrum


Not surprisingly, the research found that both liberals and conservatives exaggerate the political extremity of their opposition. Perhaps less obvious, both groups also exaggerate the extremity of their own side's views. Also less obvious, liberals were least accurate in assessing the extremity of liberal and conservative beliefs.

The introduction opens with these ridiculous quotes:
“The national Democratic Party is immoral to the core. Any American who would vote for Democrats is guilty of fostering the worst kind of degeneracy. The leaders of this party are severely out of touch with mainstream, traditional American values. They are crusaders for perversion, for licentiousness, for nihilism and worse.”
—Joseph Farah [1]World Net Daily
“Republicans don't believe in the imagination, partly because so few of them have one, but mostly because it gets in the way of their chosen work, which is to destroy the human race and the planet. Human beings, who have imaginations, can see a recipe for disaster in the making; Republicans, whose goal in life is to profit from disaster and who don't give a hoot about human beings, either can't or won't.”
—Michael Feingold [2]Village Voice
The article talks about how, in some cases, people tend to downplay the stereotypes they believe. For example, people may be less willing to admit the stereotypes they believe about racial minorities, because they don't want to seem racist. In other cases, though, people are are not only comfortable with stereotypes, but even exaggerate stereotypes. The liberal vs. conservative dichotomy seems to cause that kind of reaction.

The research here focused on five foundations for moral virtues:

  1. Harm/care (sympathy, compassion, and nurturance);
  2. Fairness/reciprocity (rights and justice);
  3. Ingroup/loyalty (patriotism and "us vs. them" thinking);
  4. Authority/respect (traditions, maintaining social order); and
  5. Purity/sanctity (moral disgust, spiritual concerns about treating the body as a temple).
The first two groups are called the "individualizing" foundations because they're usually with respect to individuals. The other three groups are called "binding" foundations because they usually involve people in connection with larger groups. Apparently studies show liberals tend to value individualizing foundations more, and conservatives tend to value binding foundations more. 

But how much more? It's not as if conservatives are totally indifferent to compassion or justice. It's not as if liberals completely dismiss traditions or spiritual concerns. Is it? Are there huge chasms between us, or are these differences more subtle?

In this research, participants identified their political leanings and then answered questionnaires. Questionnaires asked participants to give their own views, the views of a "typical liberal," and the views of a "typical conservative." The researchers could then compare how liberals and conservatives actually answer to how people think liberals and conservatives would answer.

Results
  1. In general, people understood that liberals value the harm/fairness more, and conservatives value ingroup/authority/purity more.
  2. While people understood who valued what more, people exaggerated the differences. The actual answers "typical" liberals and conservatives gave were not as different as people thought they'd be. Heck, the actual answers "extreme" liberals and conservatives gave were not as different as people thought they'd be.
  3. Everyone underestimated how much conservatives care about harm/fairness; liberals underestimated it the most, followed by moderates, then conservatives. That's kind of expected; conservatives more accurately predicted themselves. However conservatives also more accurately predicted how much liberals care about harm/fairness. That is, liberals seriously overestimated how much liberals care, whereas conservatives only slightly underestimated liberals' views. Moderates underestimated liberals' views too, and more than conservatives did.
  4. Everyone overestimated how much conservatives emphasize ingroup/authority/purity. Liberals overestimated it the most, followed by conservatives, then moderates. Everyone underestimated how much liberals emphasize ingroup/authority/purity foundations. Again, liberals underestimated it the most, followed by conservatives, then moderates. In other words, when it comes to the ingroup/authority/purity thing, liberals are the least accurate, moderates the most.
  5. Overall, liberals exaggerated moral differences the most, particularly when it comes to underestimating how much conservatives care about harm/fairness.
The authors say it would be interesting to examine the effect of social exposure of liberals to conservatives and vice-versa. How well can we predict our oppositions views if we have friends that think differently than we do? They also mention doing a similar study but assessing libertarians along with liberals and conservatives. That'd be cool. I bet people have a much less accurate picture of libertarians, because the group isn't nearly as well-known.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

2D Religious Belief

How people approach religion goes well beyond whether they believe in the supernatural or don't. Here's a more detailed perspective:
I'm sure you can get into a lot more detail than that, but at least this gives a continuum: a 1-7 scale of belief:


But, as with any viewpoint, I find there are at least two components: (1) your perspective, and (2) how much you care about the topic. 

I think some people tend to still see religious views as kind of one-dimensional anyway. Maybe religiosity correlates to passion, so people think of it something like this:



Or maybe certainty correlates to passion, so people think of it like this:


Personally, I don't find either of those quite right (although I think the 2nd one is closer to the truth than the 1st). I think it's more like this:


I've met strong atheists who are very passionate on the subject, and de-facto theists who don't seem to put much thought into it at all. Personally I'd say usually I'm somewhere between Pure Agnostic and Weak Atheist, and probably about two notches up toward the Care Passionately side. And I've noticed that I tend to be more satisfied with people on the Care Passionately side almost no matter where they are on the belief scale, compared to Strong Theists, Strong Atheists, and everyone in between that tends toward Completely Indifferent. 

Although, come to think of it, I don't think I've personally met a Strong Theist who is Completely Indifferent. I suppose that makes sense. If you're 100% sure there isn't a god, you probably have less reasons to care about religious belief at all. If you're 100% sure there is a god, you may have a lot of reason to care about what that means in your life.

And then of course there's one more factor you can add to just about any topic: are you able to discuss it in a respectful way, or are you a jackass about it?


I was going to say there seems to be some correlation between how much people care and how much they act like jackasses, but I immediately thought of several exceptions, both theists and atheists. I suspect the respectful/jackass scale is more a function of personality than passion.

So really my favorite people to talk to are going to be anyone on the Respectful and Care Passionately end, but anywhere along the belief scale.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Great Gun Exchange

I just think the wide range of reactions to Sandy Hook is interesting:

From ThinkProgress.org:
In the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, some Americans are turning in their guns as part of local government buy-backed programs.
Residents in New York City, New York, Camden, New JerseyBaltimore, Maryland, and San Francisco, California, sold hundreds of weapons back to the government no-questions asked, with some attributing their decisions to the Connecticut tragedy.
“After the incident yesterday, it was time to get it out of the house,” Sonia White, a 65-year-old Baltimore County grandmother said. A man in San Francisco explained, “I’ve got kids, man.” “Kids are curious. Kids don’t know any better. I had it locked in a toolbox, so I don’t know. … I just know it had to go.”
 From CBS Denver:
The day after the shooting in Connecticut a lot of people in Colorado tried to buy a gun.
The Colorado Bureau of Investigation says it received 4,154 requests for background checks from potential buyers on Saturday.
That was so many the CBI couldn’t process them all and the backlog grew to nearly 18 hours. The Unit could only process 3,001 checks on Saturday.

It's strange to me that people would think about what happened at Sandy Hook and then associate that with curious kids who don't know any better. Personally, if I had kids I would want to have a gun in the house all the more, the better to protect them with. To each their own, I guess.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Politicizing a tragedy?

Basically as soon as stories of the CT school shooting came out, people started talking about gun control. And other people started talking about how it's too soon to talk about gun control, that we should first mourn the victims, and it's wrong to use such a terrible tragedy to advance a political agenda. I disagree.
Aside: Let me preface this by saying that I am pro-gun ownership. I've owned a handgun for over 10 years. I've already mentioned I think it'd be better if school teachers could carry concealed weapons (provided sufficient training first).
However, I am not necessarily anti-"gun control." I think many people hear "gun control" and think "take away all private ownership of guns." Most people are against that. But when you ask people about specific gun control policies (e.g. requiring background checks, disallowing felons or mentally ill people to own guns, etc.), there's a lot more support. It really depends on the policy and how it's implemented, but I think it's reasonable to expect some restrictions on such a grave responsibility. We have restrictions on who can drive, drink, or even vote. I'm okay with certain restrictions on who can own guns, too.
Anyway, everyone has different ways of coping with grief and tragedy. For some people, trying to figure out how to prevent similar tragedies in the future is a way of coping. And many people who want stricter gun control are doing just that--trying to figure out how to prevent future tragedies. Now, I don't typically agree with them that the policies they advocate would actually help, but I believe they believe the policies would help, and that they are just searching for solutions.

Additionally, I don't really see why advancing a political agenda is necessarily an inappropriate thing to do anyway. For a lot of people, their political agendas reflect their morality and their ideals and the ways they think we can best improve our communities and our country. A lot of people advance political agendas because they care and, again, because they hope it will help prevent future problems. I may not agree with their theories about what will help, but I can still recognize their intentions.

I was thinking about this in comparison to the abortion debate. On the horrible occasion when stories of abortion-related infanticide come about, pro-lifers are very likely to suggest the defense of abortion makes infanticide seem more of a moral gray area; the same pro-lifers will renew their calls for abortion restrictions. People could just as easily tell pro-lifers to first mourn the victims, and stop trying to advance a political agenda.

I don't know. Seems like the difference between coldly advancing a political agenda and sincerely calling for solutions is whether or not people agree with the policies you're advocating.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Power of Prayer?

I saw this picture in connection with the CT school shootings:


I also saw many, many statuses in which people offered prayers.

I also saw some atheist statuses complaining about the uselessness of the prayer statuses. And that really pissed me off.

People have many different ways of coping with stress or heartbreak. Some people drink or go on medication. Some seek out the company of family and friends, some seek time alone to reflect. Maybe you journal more, maybe you write a poem or paint something or garden. And guess what? Some people pray.

So two things:

1. As long as they don't hurt others, I don't care what people do to get through the hard times in their lives. If they've found something that helps them, I'm glad for them. Do I believe God answers prayers? I don't even necessarily believe God exists, and no, I don't see a lot of evidence that people get what they pray for. So what? I also don't think alcohol and poems and paintings will magically make your problem go away, but that's not really the point, is it? They are all different methods of processing emotions, of working through grief. I'm not such an asshole as to tell grieving people "This doesn't work for me, and therefore it's useless for you to try it." Wow.

2. Prayer actually does help people. Maybe not in the "If I pray long enough, I will win the lottery" way, sure. But research has found that prayer can be a psychological balm, much like meditation. I get not believing that prayer can stop bullets, but it's just incorrect to say that there's no "power" in prayer. For those who believe in prayer, it can be quite powerful. And I'm glad those that believe in prayer have one more tool to help them help themselves and each other during really difficult times.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Ideal America: Gun Control

These "My Ideal America" posts aren't really "ideals" because, for example, ideally no one would ever need a gun for self-defense. These are really just musings about what I think is technically possible but actually extremely unlikely. They're just daydreams.

So in my ideal America, schoolteachers (and anyone who works with kids, really) would want to and be permitted to have concealed weapons. It would be considered a form of professional development--like first aid and CPR training--to better prepare you to protect the children you watch over. You wouldn't have to do it (I usually have an aversion to new laws forbidding or requiring things); it would just be something many people do, and something that shows your commitment to doing your job well.

And in order to have a concealed weapon around children, you would first undergo extensive background checks and training, moreso than what is currently required for a concealed carry in some places. You'd be very comfortable and familiar with your weapon. Then perhaps I'd feel the same way at an elementary school that I do at the shooting range: safe.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Stupid Political Conversations, Part 2

When people give an argument and then do the equivalent of running away with their fingers in their ears:

Version 1: 
Person A: I think X.
Person B: Well you're wrong for these reasons, but that's just my opinion*.
Person A: I don't think your reasons make sense because of these other factors.
Person B: Hey, I can have my opinion.
Person A: That's true. I see now that because your opinion is an opinion, it can be totally illogical or based on false facts and I can't ask you to defend any of that because, as you mentioned, it's your opinion. As we all know, opinions are impervious to critique.

*Alternative versions:
"Just sayin'."
"We can agree to disagree."


Version 2:
Person A: I think X.
Person B: Well you're wrong for these reasons.
Person A: I don't think your reasons make sense because of these other factors.
Person B: I don't have time to argue about this. I have a life.
Person A: Well I guess I should count myself honored that you took time out from your life to start the argument in the first place. Thank you for gracing me with your presence and poor reasoning skills.



Version 3:

Person A: I think X.
Person B: Well you're wrong for these reasons. End of story*.
Person A: Oh, "end of story!" You've said the magical phrase that prevents anyone from disagreeing or continuing the conversation. I wish I'd thought of saying "end of story" before you--then I could've cleverly won the debate.

*Alternative Versions:
"Period."
"That's just all there is to it."

Friday, December 14, 2012

Connecticut School Shooting

It just happened a few hours ago. Reports are still coming in, but certainly there are elementary school kids among the dead. It's horribly sad.

I've never had anyone really close to me die. Sometimes I wonder whether, statistically speaking, I am just incredibly lucky. I know it's only a matter of time--as it is for everyone--but I wonder if that time is coming much sooner than I think.

Of course I've already seen several people start talking about gun control. And I see why they would. I haven't seen any information yet on whether the shooter owned his gun legally, but I'm not sure how much it matters in this case. I mean there are lots of legal gun owners and any one of them could just snap one day and go shoot a bunch of people. Gun control advocates think gun control could prevent that, and in some cases I imagine it could. Anytime you make something more legally restricted (in this case, owning guns), less people will do it.

The thing is, of course, that unless we banned guns throughout the country and got an amazing lock down on our borders, people will still be able to obtain guns illegally. Presumably more unsavory type of people will keep getting guns, while responsible people will get guns less often. You've heard all this before, I'm sure.

So then the idea is to make guns easier to access for the responsible people, partially in the hopes of balancing out the criminals (or psychopaths). What if elementary school teachers all carried guns? Would the death toll have been as high this morning?

But who are we kidding? Even if it were legal for school teachers to bring guns to school, how many of them would choose to? ...I don't know, I think I would. I once had a job working with lots of children, and I actually thought a lot about what I would do if some crazy person just came in and started shooting, and I don't know what I'd do. There's no way we were allowed to bring guns to work, but if some guy did come in shooting there would be little helpless targets everywhere. Good lord, I hate to see my morbid, concerned daydreams become reality.

I agree that the image of everyone with guns--school teachers, bus drivers, ER nurses??--is unsettling, and I know it isn't about to happen. But what I understand of the alternative (making it harder for law-abiders to get guns) doesn't seem helpful to me. Indeed it seems like it would make it worse. I don't know.

I've seen a lot of people say versions of "my heart goes out to those families," which is kind. But I wish I could do more than think sad/nice thoughts for them.

EDIT: One friend suggested donating or volunteering at charities dedicated to working with mental health issues. Perhaps helping organizations that deal with domestic violence would also be a good step.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Reason for the Season

Last Thanksgiving I saw this cutesy photo on Facebook:


Underneath it someone had linked to this:
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.
...
Simply put: Thanksgiving is the day when the dominant white culture (and, sadly, most of the rest of the non-white but non-indigenous population) celebrates the beginning of a genocide that was, in fact, blessed by the men we hold up as our heroic founding fathers. 

Then the other day I saw this:



Ok, so here's the thing.
For most people, Thanksgiving means talking about what you're grateful for, spending time with your family, and eating a lot. Christmas is similar, but with the addition of buying each other gifts, and, for Christians, rejoicing that their savior came to earth in the first place. 

That's the meaning of those holidays for most people. You can insist that the holidays "really" mean whatever you want, but it's not like there's some objective arbiter to enforce the meanings you've chosen to insist on for all cultures throughout all history. 

You can tell people all you want that when they eat a bunch of turkey and candy yams and talk about how grateful they are for their jobs that really they are celebrating genocide--but they're not. It's not like as long as you insist that's what people think and feel, it'll be true. It's not like you can instill in them a secret happiness at the deaths of others just by insisting that's what it means to hang out together and bake pies.

And you can tell people all you want that when they hang their kids' Popsicle-stick ornaments on their Christmas trees and give each other presents that really they are worshiping Babylonian idols--but they're not. As the cartoon itself shows, traditions are mixed, mingled, adjusted, and evolved over time and geography and so on. Why should the person co-opting Charlie Brown get to decide which time in history versus all other times is the most relevant to modern-day Christmas? In the distant future I doubt someone studying the American Christmas tradition would insist it's based on Babylonians.

This is just another version of telling people what they think and how they feel, and then decrying the thoughts and feelings you've assigned that they haven't embraced. Plus, to my mind, this attitude comes off as at least as self-righteous and obnoxious as the very behavior you're complaining about.

I actually am not a big fan of genocide, and I'm still going to celebrate Tday every year because I love being with my family. I don't believe in fertility gods and I'm still going to put up a Christmas tree because they fill me with a happy nostalgia for my childhood. 

You can just get over it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Being gay isn't genetic, but it is biological?

At least, according to io9's understanding of an upcoming study.
A team of international researchers has confirmed that there's no such thing as a ‘gay gene.' But that doesn't mean biology is off the hook in terms of explaining why homosexuality exists in the human population. It's not about genetics, say the researchers, it's about epigenetics — the process in which the expression of DNA is influenced by any number of external factors. And in the case of homosexuality, these factors are happening inside the womb.
I don't pretend to know anything about epigenetics, but I'm interested to learn, and I'm interested to see what reactions the rest of the scientific community (and the community at large) will have to the study once it's released.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Aging Gracefully

I've always admired graying women who don't bother to dye their hair. We all get older. I'd rather embrace it and focus on other parts of my life then try so hard (desperately, in some cases) to hold on to my youth.

Maybe that's easy for me to say now, because I am still young. I like the way I look (overall) and that's probably partly because I'm in my 20s.

But I see all the "anti-aging" products (mostly marketed toward women) and I see some of my older female relatives feel down about wrinkles or stretch marks or less distinct curves. And I understand the desire to be appealing, I do. If there was a way to stay in a youthful body I probably would, too. But there's not.

Now, I'm all for being healthy and for staying fit to the extent reasonable for your age group. I think that's awesome. But we're all going to lose some color and get some wrinkles and I'd rather just accept it and be happy with who I am.

That's kind of why, by the way, even now I very rarely wear make up, I don't color my hair, and I try not to let myself dwell on what outfit I'll wear today for more than a few moments. I want to be healthy and hygienic and feel good about my body image, but outside of that I try to de-emphasize my looks and focus on other qualities. I don't want to feel hideous leaving the house without make up--I think my face is fine. I don't want to feel depressed as I inevitably get older--I like myself and want to continue to like myself.


Anyway, I was thinking about all of this partially because I recently saw some before and after photos like this:


I think these women are pretty good-looking for their age, and certainly in great shape. It's kind of sad and embarrassing to see how much they need to be artificially touched up to impress people. I much prefer something like this:

Helen Mirren

She seems lovely to me. And because it's not (ostentatiously, anyway) photoshopped, she seems confident too. Maybe I project too much.

Of course women of all ages are pressured a lot to focus on looks and reach a certain (ridiculous) standard of attractiveness. (See?) I don't like it for any age group, but I guess it bothers me a bit more for older women. Trying to achieve the Crazy Hot "Ideal" 23-Year-Old thing seems more sad and desperate from women in their 40s and 50s then women in their 20s, although I don't think it's a good standard for any of us.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

"It is of interest to note that..."

Ugh, no!
  1. First, awkward language, guys! You could just say "It's interesting that..."
  2. Also, empty words. You could just say the supposedly interesting thing and let the reader decide whether it's interesting or not. If it's interesting do you really need to point out that it's interesting?
  3. But mostly, cowardly and dishonest. That is, I notice people often use this phrase when they want to believe some correlation is a causation, but they don't have the evidence to show it. So for example:
"It is of interest to note that criminal defence witnesses whose evidence failed to meet the relevant statutory evidence standards were more likely to suffer complete exclusion, rather than limitation, of their evidence." - Forensic Identification Science Evidence Since Daubert
In other words, defense expert testimony gets thrown out more than prosecution expert testimony. Why this is true is unclear--it could be some insidious conspiracy by the courts to side with law enforcement, or it could be something simpler, like defense people overall have smaller budgets and can't hire as many high-quality expert witnesses. Or it could be any number of other things. We don't know, at least not just from this study.

People do this all the time. Right after the election I saw a lot of people use captions like "interesting" and "hmm" accompanied by this photo:

Obviously the photo tries to imply a correlation between the (racist) slave states and Republican voters. Of course correlation doesn't mean causation (C'MON PEOPLE) but this photo doesn't even show correlation--and it didn't take much Googling to find that out. If you look at voting trends with any kind of detail beyond state-level, the above correlation disappears. Here:


Purple
America 2012
Source here.

"Oh. Hmm. Interesting." 

"Hmm"? "HMMM"?! Stop hiding behind non-committal ambiguity and either back up what you think is true or don't say anything to begin with.

End rant.

Friday, November 30, 2012

San Francisco is so bossy.

"Paper or plastic?" is no longer a question in SF. Plastic bags have been banned. Paper bags are an option as long as the customer will pay $0.10 per bag. One SF customer claims, "It's not about control, it's about reminding us what's good for us." But when "reminders" involve bans and penalties, it comes to the same thing.

Sure, $0.10 is pretty inconsequential, but it's the very notion that gets me--trying to push people around even regarding something as trivial as buying and bringing reusable bags for their groceries. I feel the same way about San Francisco's 2011 ban on free Happy Meal toys, New York's ban on super-sized sodas, and Missouri's recent (failed) attempt to raise taxes on cigarettes.

And here's the thing: I think smoking (that is, being a smoker, as opposed to having a cigarette every couple of weeks or something) is idiotic, because it's so bad for you. Similarly, I think drinking lots of soda or eating lots of junk food is foolish (as opposed to having a treat every now and then). Over one third of American adults are obese and the rate is only rising. So I do see the reasoning behind a lot of these efforts. But I just think people should be free to make idiotic choices--if we're only free to make the choices everyone else agrees with, it's not all that free.

Aside: I'm not saying we're on the verge of some fascist dictatorship or anything. We are obviously still very free compared to many people in the world, and I appreciate that. But I don't like the mentality behind the government pushing people around "for the greater good." It makes me feel indignant, and very weary.

The SF paper bag situation annoys me more than the other examples, though. It's one thing to try to curb the obesity epidemic or decrease cancer rates; again, I don't agree with these methods but I see why other people think it's necessary. But bossing people around over their use of paper products? That's even weaker. From what I understand, paper decomposes relatively easily, and it doesn't look like we're on the verge of running out of trees.

...The end.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nice Guys, Part II: A Diagram

I've seen some men claim that women say they know what they want, but they don't really know what they want. These ladies say they want a nice guy but then they date jerks. Some thoughts:

  1. Many people (men and women) date jerks when they are still entering the dating world. There's no substitute for experience, and without experience you're a lot more likely to overlook red flags that would warn more experienced people not to bother dating someone. This doesn't mean inexperienced people don't know what they want; it means they haven't yet learned how to locate what they want. You'll notice a lot of people may date jerks for a little while, but once they realize their partner is, in fact, a jerk, they move on--because a jerk isn't what they want.
  2. On the other hand, some people date a jerk, learn that the person is a jerk, and then...keep dating that jerk. I don't pretend to have a good explanation for this. In fact, it drives me crazy. However I'm not convinced that a) this is a phenomenon exclusive to women or b) that most--much less all--women do this.
  3. There is a lot more to attraction than whether someone is nice or a jerk. Off the top of my head (in no particular order), there's work ethic, ambition, passion, physical attraction, honesty, loyalty, playfulness, confidence, optimism, sense of humor, education, religious views, political views, socioeconomic status, family history, and so on. There are all sorts of combinations of these traits and more that may lead to initial attraction and/or long-standing relationships.
When people talk about the "nice guy" situation no one seems to bother to define "nice guy," but in my experience it tends to mean a thoughtful man who is not all that confident. Those two traits seem to be consistent in "nice guys," while I've seen everything else vary. 

I hope it's obvious that the following diagram is a simplification. Not every single woman wants a confident guy necessarily, and I've known women who stayed and seemed satisfied with guys that weren't all that thoughtful. Also, the diagram doesn't take into account the myriad of other possible factors in attraction. Just assume they're all lurking in the center somewhere.


The only point I'm trying to make here is that the options aren't simply "nice guys" or jerks. Most women who say they want a nice guy do, in fact, want a nice guy, but that doesn't mean "niceness" is the only thing they're looking for.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Nice Guys

So some girls say they want to date nice guys. But they also tell (alleged) nice guys that they just want to be friends. "Nice guys" get frustrated at the inconsistency.


Some "nice guys" then get mad and start bashing the women who want nice-guys-except-you. And some women respond by pointing out that he couldn't have cared all that much about you as a person if he rejects your friendship when you don't want to be romantic. (See here. Warning: crude language.) Of course, if you treat her like crap just because she doesn't want to date you, you aren't actually a nice guy to begin with, so the whole conversation is moot.

But not every nice guy who complains is a secret asshole. I think it depends on how you complain--what you do and say.

And, really, this goes for both genders. I'd think it'd be obvious that you can both care deeply about someone and have romantic feelings for that person. If the romantic feelings aren't reciprocated it can get be quite painful, and I don't think complaining about your pain is an inherently jerk thing to do.

On the internet it seems like all the "nice guys" who complain aren't at all nice anyway, but in reality I've known plenty of guys I considered genuinely nice who struggled in the dating world for other reasons. I can see how that would be really frustrating.

Books for Daughters

Saw this on Pinterest:

Books for daughters that are about brave girls rather than just pretty princesses.

Apparently these are books that feature brave female protagonists, instead of princesses waiting to be saved. I don't know if I'd pick these books specifically, but I like the idea. 

People complain about parents "indoctrinating" their children, but from what I can tell the difference between indoctrinating your kids and teaching your kids is whether or not the observer agrees with your lessons.

I'm fine with "indoctrinating" my kids--I think my viewpoints are correct and morally right. (Obviously, else I wouldn't hold those views.) I do want my kids to learn to think critically and form their own opinions, but that doesn't mean I'll act as if I have no opinions of my own. I expect I'll try to raise my kids to hold the same views I do. Why wouldn't I?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Science Denial

Came across this short article from the National Center for Science Education. In it, author Joshua Rosenau discusses the causes of science denial (denying evolution, climate change, vaccinations).

Rosenau claims there's a disconnect between scientists and science deniers: scientists will focus on scientific facts and evidence, while deniers will focus on moral and social repercussions.
The conversation might begin with a dispute about the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, the significance of antibiotic resistance, or the veracity of Archaeopteryx fossils, but before long the discussion leaps to the implications of evolution for the human soul, morality, or religious truth. Discussions about vaccines may open with fears about autism, heavy metals in preservatives, or how many antigens a baby’s body can handle, but rapidly shift to anger about limits on parents’ rights to make choices for their children. Climate change conversations rapidly shift from science to free market capitalism and private citizens’ right to make decisions about their families and their homes. Without addressing these fears first, it is impossible to correct scientific errors and undo the harm caused by science denial. [emphasis added]
Rosenau explains that science denial gets rooted in social identity. Perhaps creationists feel they can't really be Evangelicals if they accept evolution. Same thing with climate change and being conservative. Maybe parents of children with autism feel more socially supported by the anti-vaccine groups than by medical offices.

Trying to force feed evidence to people is only so effective when we don't address the social, emotional, and psychological reasons for denial in the first place. It may be more effective to highlight people within these social groups that already do accept the scientific claims. As Rosenau says,
The messengers most likely to break through will be those who share a social identity with the science-denying audience. Their mere existence undercuts the belief that an individual cannot belong to this group and accept the science.
He goes on to list examples of people already working from this strategy.

I think most people prefer to see the world in black and white; it's easier to understand and work with. In fact, a big part of why I like the sciences is because the answers are black and white. Objective evidence is unaffected by human emotion, social custom, or even morality. Scientists (being human) may cloud the truth through error or even sabotage, but with enough people following the scientific method, the truth wins out. Science leads to more than never-ending, conflicting opinions; it leads to verifiable answers. I love that.

While scientific truths may be black and white, peoples' beliefs are all shades of gray. Our thought processes are complex, and we form our beliefs based on many factors in addition to (or in spite of) raw evidence.

Promoting scientific truth, then, may require a more complex strategy than reiterating  evidence and deriding anyone who resists. We'd like for everyone to be purely logical and rational, but that's not how people are. We can't just talk about chemistry, biology, or physics; we need to talk about emotions, social identity, religious beliefs, political views, psychological states. Science denial isn't just about physical reality; it's about people.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Abortion and Rationality

Philosophers have proposed, and studies have suggested, that people form opinions based on their emotions first, and after the opinion is formed they find a way to rationalize it.

Emotion ---> Opinion! ---> Rationalization

We may like to believe we first carefully think about the logic behind ideas, then form our opinions, and then let our emotions follow the conviction of our rational minds. And maybe some people do that, or at least do it better than others.

Thoughts ---> Opinion! ---> Emotions

Or maybe the emotions do come first, but some people are better at separating out the emotions and forming opinions without them. I'm sure it varies from person to person.

Emotion (set aside) ---> Thoughts ---> Opinion!

Overall, though, I suspect most of us have emotions first, thoughts after. Think about the times you've debated someone about politics or religion or anything else and their counterarguments have been nonsensical. If their thoughts make no sense, why are they so convinced of their perspective? Because it's not their thoughts that guide them. It's their emotions.

The abortion debate is no exception. None at all. I expect people form their opinions based on feelings even more often when an issue is more morally complex. Complexity makes it harder to think it through. And abortion--despite what some  insist--is morally complex.

Perhaps this is part of the reason one side talks much more about abortion in cases of rape, even though those situations account for less than 1% of abortions. Perhaps its the reason the other side uses photos of late-term abortions or late-term fetal development, even though over 90% of abortions are performed in the first trimester. People gravitate toward the extremes, where the morality gets a little less complex, the emotion a little more raw.

I suspect it's also true that opinions formed based on emotion are harder to change than opinions formed based on thought. Perhaps this explains why American views on the morality of abortion haven't varied that much in so long?

[Re-posted at Secular Pro-Life.]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Ideal America: Black Friday

In my ideal America, retailers would absolutely be allowed to be open Black Friday, but they wouldn't bother because so few people would choose to shop over the Thanksgiving holiday. Stores would be as empty as they are when everyone gets snowed in. People who work with the public would get the time off to spend with their families, unless they volunteered to work the holiday, just to have minimum coverage.

The same goes for Christmas day, by the way.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Philosophy X

Philosophy X (could be political, religious, whatever) says its adherents should do a, b, and c good deeds, but most of the adherents to philosophy X follow a distorted version of the philosophy that leads them to do x, y, and z bad things. OR most of the adherents of philosophy X do a, b, and c good things, but there's a high correlation between adhering to philosophy X and also doing x, y, and z bad things. We want to get people to stop doing x, y, and z.

So do we try to get rid of philosophy X itself? Or do we try to get people to see the ideal (true) version of philosophy X and respond accordingly?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Positive & Negative Rights

If I understand correctly, negative rights oblige inaction and positive rights oblige action. 

You have a negative right to not be killed--someone can't hold your head underwater and drown you, for example. But what if someone walks by and sees you drowning? Do you have a positive right to be kept alive--is that person obliged to jump in and try to save you? If you are left to drown your negative right isn't being violated--no one is killing you. However your  positive right (if you have one) is being violated.

Freedom of speech is a negative right--you have the right to not be silenced. If freedom of speech were a positive right, maybe it would be more like the right to have people listen to you. If you say whatever you want but no one listens to you, your negative right is not being violated though your positive right (if you had one) would be.

Right to counsel is a positive right--you have the right to be represented by an attorney, including having counsel appointed if you can't afford it yourself. If right to counsel were a negative right, maybe it would be more like the right to not be stopped from hiring an attorney. Again, notice the difference: if you can't afford an attorney, the negative right isn't being violated. No one is stopping you from hiring an attorney, you just can't afford one. But if you can't afford an attorney, your positive right is being violated--the right to be represented by counsel.

In summary, I guess negative rights basically mean "You leave me alone as long as I'm leaving you alone" and positive rights basically mean "You have to provide me something."

It seems like people increasingly think of rights as positive rights. Rights to education and health care, rights to information (see California's recently defeated "Right To Know" proposition), rights to retirement income, and so forth. 

I think any society needs a bit of both negative and positive rights, but if we had to pick one type or another I'd lean towards "you leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" over "you owe me stuff and I owe you stuff."

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Inspiration from Strangers

I love it when I see middle-aged (or older) people studying at the junior college (or anywhere else). It's the same way I love seeing overweight people working out. I just love seeing anyone making the hard decision to start improving themselves. It makes me feel vaguely proud of everyone. It's never too late to start making good choices.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Matthew 7:1

You know the phrase "Judge not, lest ye be judged"? What if you are okay with being judged?

I judge people who are behaving stupidly or immorally, and I expect them to judge me the same way. I'm not asking for special treatment. If I'm doing something stupid or immoral (and I find the two often coincide) then I think I would want people to judge me, and push me to get my head on straight and stop doing those stupid or immoral things.

Maybe when people say "Don't judge me" or "Don't judge others" they mean something different than I do by "judge." I suspect they mean "don't assume you know enough details about the situation to have an accurate reading of what's going on" or "don't think you're better than people, consider some of the things that you've done yourself" or simply "don't be hateful." I like this idea:


And while I agree with being kind and taking care not to assume too much or be arrogant, I don't think that's all there is to "judging." I think some people take the "no judging" thing to the point of "no thinking" or "no standards."

When you see immorality, or just plain stupidity, you should point it out. People won't necessarily change, or listen to you at all, but it's not wrong to stand up for what you think is right, and similarly, there's no reason to fear other people holding you to the same standards. I do judge people, and I expect them to judge me in return. Not hate me, not scream at me, but to tell me when they think I'm in the wrong. I'm fine with that.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Balance

There are many important factors in the abortion debate. I try to weigh all factors in forming my perspective. I am pro-life, but I don't pick the side lightly. It seems the only options are restricting a woman's control over her body or allowing the unrestricted killing of human fetuses. I take both outcomes seriously; something is sacrificed no matter which side you choose, and I think a lot of people recognize that.

But not everyone. A lot of people insist the issue is black and white, that their own view is the only obvious view. I think this happens because--out of the many factors that play into abortion--people decide which factor they think is the most important...and then they refuse to consider anything else.

For example, I've seen pro-choicers say that whether the fetus is a person is irrelevant because no person has the right to use your body against your will. I'd depict their perspective like this:


Similarly, I've seen pro-lifers say that it makes no sense to grant a rape exception because the fetus is a human being no matter how he or she was conceived. I'd depict their perspective like this:


I disagree with both of the above perspectives. I think both the humanity of the fetus and the woman's bodily rights matter. In my opinion, the scale should look more like this:

One factor may still outweigh another, but it won't outweigh by as much as if there were no other factors to consider. We can certainly argue over which factor has more weight, why it has more weight, and how much more weight it has. But those are very different arguments than asserting that only one factor matters at all.

When considering only bodily autonomy and humanity, I believe one person's bodily autonomy does outweigh another person's humanity. After all, we don't require people to donate blood even if it means other people will die without blood donations. We don't do this because your bodily autonomy--your right to decide whether or not to donate blood--is considered more important than the life of a man who will die without a blood transfusion. The dying man still has his humanity--no one is saying he's not a human being--but his humanity doesn't somehow mean you can be forced to donate blood. 

Some people say this does make the dying man's humanity irrelevant. After all, whether he is human or not, you still don't have to donate blood, right? Who cares whether bodily autonomy outweighs humanity a little or a lot--in the end it still outweighs, so why even talk about humanity?

Because humanity and bodily autonomy still aren't the only factors to consider. Other factors must be added to one side of the balance or the other, and the accumulation of multiple factors may tip the scales. For example, what if the man is dying because of you? What if you consented to some action you knew risked putting his life in danger? Maybe then the scale would look more like this:


Take away any one of the factors on the left, and bodily autonomy wins out again. But the combination of factors on the left is another story.

Now, there are actually many, many more factors to consider on both sides of the scale. My point in this post is not to give an exhaustive argument for why I think most abortions should be illegal. My point is simply to say that there are a lot of factors in the abortion debate, and while some of them weigh more than others, they all weigh something. Keep that in mind.

[Re-posted at Secular Pro-Life]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pro-Lifers & Birth Control, Part II

So my last "Pro-Lifers & Birth Control" post was also posted on the Secular Pro-Life blog, and I was pleased to see a lot of points raised both on the blog and on the FB page that I hadn't necessarily thought about. I like it when that happens.

There were probably enough ideas to inspire several more blog posts, but for now I had one particular question:

Is it more important to talk about what people are doing or what people could do?

Many pro-lifers (including me) point out that if you can't handle a pregnancy in your life right now, you could refrain from intercourse. And many pro-choicers scoff in response, because we all know most people aren't refraining from intercourse.

Similarly, anti-contraception folks point out that women are getting pregnant while using contraception.* But contraception proponents insist the abortion rate could drop because women could use contraception correctly and consistently.

The common assumption (however questionable) is that pro-lifers tend to be anti-contraception and pro-choicers tend to be contraception proponents. So I think it's kind of funny that these groups focus on what could be happening in one case and what is happening in another.

To answer my own question, I'd say we must talk about both what people are doing and what they could do. How else can we figure out how to help people get beyond the "are" to the "could"?

----

*According to Guttmacher, 48% of unintended pregnancies involve women who use contraception (5% from women who consistently and correctly use contraception, 43% from women who use contraception inconsistently or incorrectly.)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

2D Politics

So I voted for Gary Johnson. I didn't agree with every stance he had, but I agreed more closely with his stances than any other candidate.

That should be reason enough, but as a bonus reason I am really weary of the two-party system. Some people have claimed Romney was just "Obama Lite" and that the two are basically the same. I don't go that far; I see a lot of differences between them. But I do think there are a lot of other ways to combine social and fiscal stances than the combinations the Democrats and Republicans offer, and I think there are a lot of people who wish alternative combinations were viable options.

I think this quiz sort of gets the idea. Instead of a spectrum of Left to Right, it adds a second dimension. Check it out, see where you land.


Pro-Lifers & Birth Control

Gallup says 89% of American adults consider birth control morally acceptable. Gallup also says 50% of Americans describe themselves as "pro-life."

Let's assume all of the other 50% (the people who don't describe themselves as "pro-life") consider birth control morally acceptable. That leaves 39% of Americans who both describe themselves as "pro-life" and consider birth control morally acceptable. In other words, at a minimum, 78% of self-described pro-lifers consider birth control morally acceptable. But you wouldn't know it, would you?

I thought I was a minority in being both anti-abortion and pro-birth control. The polls say most pro-lifers are fine with birth control, so why doesn't it seem that way? I have some theories.

1) Pro-lifers who are more active in the pro-life movement are probably both more vocal and more ideologically "pure." In other words, perhaps the majority of self-described pro-lifers are fine with birth control, but the majority of pro-life activists (the people we hear from the most) are not?

2) "Birth control" is a vague term. There are many different types of birth control, and some are more controversial than others. For example, maybe most pro-lifers think condoms are a good idea but reject the morning after pill. Would they say, generically, that "birth control" is morally acceptable, or no?

3) The religious right is vocal about opposing the birth control mandate. People conflate pro-lifers with the religious right (and there's certainly a correlation, but still it's not quite accurate). People also conflate not wanting to pay for birth control with thinking people shouldn't be allowed to use birth control.

Anything I'm missing? Why do you think there's such a discrepancy between the perceptions of the pro-life movement and what an average "pro-lifer" actually thinks?

[Re-posted on Secular Pro-Life]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stupid Abortion Conversations

She was on birth control and he used a condom. They did everything they could to avoid pregnancy!
Well, not everything. They still had sex.
Why do you hate sex? Why do you want to punish women?
...What?
Pointing out that sex can cause pregnancy is a statement of fact--not a preference, not a moral judgment. Don't try to act like there's no connection between sex and pregnancy and then accuse anyone who corrects you of hating sex. You don't have to hate sex to understand how pregnancy happens, guys.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Changing Minds

Many people have told me arguing on the internet is a waste of time. I've told other people that myself (not that it stops me at all anyway). Most of the time you are arguing with people who don't have any real interest in exploring your thoughts or their own. Most of the time people just want to "win" and will ignore difficult questions, get sarcastic and defensive in the face of resistance, refuse to acknowledge any decent points at all on the other side, and so on. I'm sure I have done all of these things myself at one point or another.

But sometimes you have conversations with people who really are curious about the thoughts of those they disagree with, and who really are interested in exploring their own thoughts. Even if I don't specifically change my mind by the end, I almost always learn something from those conversations. It's very satisfying.

I think people rarely change their mind over a single conversation. So when others say "I've never seen anyone change their mind about this" I don't find it all that convincing. It's hard to "see" people change their mind, because a lot of times it happens gradually with enough time and opportunity to really digest different viewpoints, try out different arguments with others, test the arguments' strengths and weaknesses, and develop conclusions. I bet a lot of times even the person changing her mind doesn't necessarily realize it's happening right away.

And I've realized recently that, actually, I have changed my mind about many things over the last five years or so, and a lot of that has been due to online debates with people who really wanted to talk it out. Now, rarely have I reversed positions entirely, but even if I don't 180, I suppose I do...90? 45? Even if I still disagree, I at least come to better understand the opposition's arguments.

And maybe people on the other side of the fence find a "90 degree" conversion insufficient, but I think it matters. Consider a topic you feel strongly about. Imagine all the people you know who strongly disagree with you. Now imagine that, tomorrow, all of your opposition came "halfway" around to your view. It'd make a big difference.

I attended an ethics lecture a couple of weeks ago, and the professor claimed people rarely change their minds based only on thinking a lot about a topic--people are more likely to change their minds based on talking a lot about a topic, particularly with a friend who disagrees. He asked us to consider the last time we changed our position on something significant. Why did we do it?

So go on. Why did you do it?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Don't say it unless you can back it up.

You know, it's not just that good arguments can persuade me. It's also that bad arguments can dissuade me.

There have been plenty of times when I've gotten into conversations about a subject on which I am pretty ambivalent--I don't see a very compelling argument for one side or another. Then a proponent of one side gives me a really poor argument for his side, and that alone makes me feel more inclined to agree with his opposition.

Is that even logical? There's no rule saying one side has to be right. Depending on the situation there could be numerous alternatives besides those presented by two sides, or even if there are only two alternatives, those two alternatives could suck equally but for different reasons. If I haven't been given a good argument for the opposition, why should I think the opposition is correct?

But I do. If I hear enough people say foolish things for their own side, I start to assume (hope?) the other side must be smarter. And I bet a lot of people assume that.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Larger Agenda

If we suddenly stopped arguing about the legality of abortion and just skipped straight to an appeal to morality independent of legality (as if that's even possible), how would people react?

Secular Pro-Life once talked about how 68% of Americans believe abortion should be illegal after the first trimester. The blog post ends by asking, "Why, then, has it been so difficult to unify and enact meaningful change?"

One of the blog followers commented,
Most pro-choicers that I know do not think abortion should be legal after a certain stage of the pregnancy. As for the policy making (just speaking of the conservative side), abortion bills are usually written by/for or framed in such a way that makes them appear more as small steps towards making abortion completely illegal. They do not come across, despite what some policy makers say, as "for the benefit of the woman or society", but as part of a larger agenda by very religious conservative people. That makes average/everyday pro-choicers very nervous and so it is fought.
How many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they weren't afraid that the end goal was to legally eliminate abortion?

Similarly, how many people would work to legally restrict abortion if they were confident that exceptions for the life of the mother and rape would be preserved?

Even if we could change hearts and minds such that no one chose to get an abortion, I think I'd still want abortion to be legally restricted. After all, what does it say about my society that it is legal to kill an innocent person, even if no one actually chooses to do it? What would you think of a society in which it technically wasn't illegal to kill an infant, even if no one ever chose to do it?

But sometimes I do wonder if, on a practical level, the pro-life movement could get more done with a different strategy.

[Reposted on Secular Pro-Life]

Friday, November 2, 2012

Actually, the law *is* based on my morality.

It's also based on your morality. And the morality of your classmates, coworkers, and cousins. Your best friend and worst enemy and your next door neighbor whose name you can't remember even though you've seen her several times a week for years.

It goes like this:

Morals --> Opinions --> Votes --> Law

On a practical level, we have no "intrinsic" rights. We have the rights that we, as a society, have agreed we should have and that we, as a society, are willing to formalize in legislation and give the force of law.

So how do we determine which rights to recognize as a society? We argue about it. A lot. Sometimes with careful application of already-commonly-accepted philosophical points. Sometimes with snide comments and swearing and screaming. We have strong opinions about what counts as a "right" and who should have which rights and why. And we vote.

Our opinions (and thus our votes) are based on many things, I'm sure. One of those things is our personal moral views.

And why shouldn't that be the case? I would hope that people argue and vote based on what they think is right. Of course I don't always agree with what they thinks is right--I often hugely disagree. And I'll argue with them and vote against them. But I respect that they are acting according to their conscience. Even if I think their conscience is stupid.

Usually when people say "Don't push your morals on me!" they mean "Don't push your religious perspective on me." I can understand saying "Look, we don't all agree that God exists or, if he does, that he is all good, all powerful, and just. Why should the rest of us have to play by the rules of someone we think is imaginary?" Yes. I get that.

But "I don't agree with your religious teachings" is quite different from "Don't push your morals on me!" We all push our morals on each other--that's the only way it works. One person thinks it is immoral for two men to get married. One person thinks it's immoral if two men can't get married. A lot of people think it's immoral to have legal abortion. A lot of people think it would be immoral to outlaw abortion. And on and on. And most of us work to get society to accept, encourage, and even enforce our morality.

In a democracy, laws are based on collective agreements about morality. What else could they be based on?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stupid Political Conversations


Person 1: Why do you believe X?

Person 2: Well, for these reasons.

Person 1: You're so wrong! You're stupid and/or evil! You will never convince me to believe X!
Person 2: ...I wasn't trying to convince you...you asked me.


Person 1: Premise A.
Person 2: No, premise B.
Person 1: No, premise A because of x,y,z reasons.
Person 2: No, premise B because of c,d,e reasons.
Person 1: Yeah, but you've gotta admit...premise A.
Person 2: I have to admit the very thing over which we're disagreeing? Good point. You win.
-OR-
Person 1: I think we all know that premise A.
Person 2: So...what? We all secretly "know" your opinion, and we're just pretending to disagree to be difficult?
-OR-
Person 1: If you think about it, premise A.
Person 2: Oh yes, if only I would think. All of your arguments are now logically sound, because you reminded me to think. Thank you.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kidney donations and abortion

Recently the Texas Freethought Convention held a debate between a pro-life atheist and a pro-choice atheist. Near the beginning, the pro-choice atheist described this analogy:

An alternate version [of the Violinist], which I much prefer, simply asks if a parent should be legally required to donate a kidney to their child...the parent willingly procreated with the knowledge that there was some nonzero risk of passing on a rare kidney disease that would require this procedure from the parent to save the child's life. Many people might consider that parent a moral monster for refusing to donate that kidney, but I've yet to see any sound justification for legally requiring the donation. The morality of the situation and the legal responsibility are separate issues.
This analogy is meant to illustrate why abortion should be legal. Even if you are a parent and even if you consented to risk procreation and even if your child will die without your bodily donation, you still can not be legally required to donate your body to the child.

Do you think this analogy holds? Do you find it compelling? Why or why not?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

You're either with us or against us.

I have friends across the entire range of the political spectrum. This often means I'm privy to a lot of conflicting perspectives. In the last day or two, I've seen a lot of the following kind of mentality:
A Catholic whose conscience has been properly formed by scripture and Church teaching cannot justify a vote for a candidate or referendum question that opposes the teachings of the Church. The definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, open to the birth of children, is a matter of established Catholic doctrine. Any Catholic who supports a redefinition of marriage—or so called “same-sex marriage”—is unfaithful to Catholic doctrine. - Bishop Malone
I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they’re voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, “My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.”
It’s like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You’re still complicit. You’re still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don’t get to walk away clean, because you say you “disagree” with your candidate on these issues. - Doug Wright
It irritates me any time I see statements of the form "If you don't vote for my preferred candidate, then you [rotating answer] aren't a true Catholic/atheist/conservative/liberal/or are a bigot/racist/sinner/or are lazy/stupid/selfish or don't care about the poor/our future/our safety..." and on and on.

The truth is there are a lot of factors to consider when picking a candidate, and people weight these many factors differently. I do believe people of good conscience can diverge a lot on both their stances and the weight they give those stances. This means people can have good motivations and vote for a candidate I think sucks.

It's one thing to say "If so-and-so gets elected, I believe these bad things will happen with regard to this issue, an issue I consider very important." That's pretty different then saying "If you vote for so-and-so, then a) you know and agree with me that it will have these bad effects and b) you just don't care about these bad effects because you think/feel/believe these bad things."

Don't assign motivation just because people come to different conclusions than you.