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Tolerance is not an option

June 4, 2011

I don’t think humans are capable of having a topic that they are indifferent towards.  We must either express approbation or disapprobation towards an idea or group of people who support that idea.  I noticed this first in myself.  In order to support gay rights, I found myself defending gay people.  I couldn’t just make the case that equal rights alone is good (which I like to think I believe).  I also found myself making the case to people that homosexuals were often good people.  Likewise, I found it hard to say “what people do with their bodies is their own business”.  I also found myself thinking that marijuana wasn’t that harmful and that druggies weren’t necessarily bad people, even though they might have made bad decisions.  In order to take a position, I found myself making other related positions.  I think this is why people who disapprove of potheads think drugs should be illegal and those who disapprove of those who sell their organs think organ sales should be illegal.  Because a group is the subject of disapprobation, all of their activities and associations must likewise be disapproved of and made illegal.  I think that humans are more interested in status based affiliation than advocating consistent or just policy positions.

David Gordon comments.
Bryan Caplan comments.
John Cook comments.
Eric Crampton on Skiing and Paternalism

Update (1/19/2012):
I have been reading Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman, and have come across a idea that is related to this article: the Halo Effect. The halo effect occurs when someone or something has one positive trait, and people assume it must have other positive traits without evidence. So, a smart person is also assumed to be kind, or an attractive person is assumed to be generous. I think it happens with concepts and lifestyles as well.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Brian permalink
    June 4, 2011 2:12 pm

    You say: “I think that humans are more interested in status based affiliation than advocating consistent or just policy positions”

    Can/should anything be done about that?

    • jamesoswald permalink*
      June 5, 2011 3:55 am

      No (maybe eugenics)/ Not really. People should be aware of the phenomenon that beliefs are package deals.


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