Data vs. Emotion

I’m constantly impressed with how many debates can be reduced to this fundamental conflict.  Mike talks about this conflict within the abortion debate, and it’s pretty clearly active in arguments over death penalty, rehabilitation vs. punishment, drug treatment vs. criminalization, immigration — all the crime & punishment issues.

Compare this to economic policy, where conservatives do field data-based arguments (or at least they could, in some ideal world where the right was about more than appealing to the most base human instincts).  Few arguments occur without some appeals to emotion, but in, say, minimum wage debates, both sides reference legitimate economic research backing their preferred policy.

Possibly, the emotional tact is effective with crime issues because we’re predisposed/conditioned to act non-rationally when ‘fairness’ is at stake. Regardless, this fundamental conflict suggests that the process-change needed to enact many of the progressive fantasy policies is…smarter voters.  Original, I know, but what I actually mean is: voters better trained in critical thinking, the ostensible goal of much of our education system.

Of course, this means that woman grade school teachers from Brown are the vanguard of any long-term progressive agenda, and Jonah Goldberg is not a complete idiot.

No wait.  That can’t be right.  Ignore this entire post.

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