Thursday, February 7, 2019

On Politics and Disgust Sensitivity

Another (modified) excerpt from my Sent folder.

After having read the whole article (on alignment between political positions and "disgust sensitivity"), I do think that Alan Jacobs' point -- that liberalism is taken as the "baseline," and conservatism as the weird outlier that needs explanation -- seems evident from start to finish.

The article would read differently if the starting point was, "How come people with lower disgust sensitivity and less developed taste buds have a 'liberal ethos'?"

McAuliffe acknowledges the dual ways of reading the data towards the end:
If you’re liberal, you may be thinking, So this explains some of the other side’s nativism and hostility to immigration. But it’s just as easy to flip the science on its head and conclude, as conservatives might, that the left is composed of clueless naïfs whose rosy-eyed optimism about human nature—and obliviousness to various dangers—will only lead to trouble.
But the whole article nevertheless suggests a particular read on the data -- which you can see when, a couple paragraphs after that, she emphasizes the fundamental irrationality (or perhaps "sub-rational" operation) of disgust.

And, interestingly enough, it dovetails with a (conservative, anti-abortion) piece I recently revisited that was arguing for the (limited) moral value of gut-level disgust -- that we shouldn't just dismiss our revulsion but consider whether it might have some real meaning.