For a long time now Americans have been getting more divided on every issue. One side looks at things one way, and the other has their beliefs too. These two sides are (very broadly) conservative and liberal. Both have some good points if you’re really willing to listen, but when you stand on one side of the aisle (and really, how could you not) most of what the other side seems to be saying is fucking insane. “You wanna do WHAT!?” or, depending on the year, “You want to elect THEM President!?” But how did we come to this? How do we move forward? I’m a college student working at an entry level food service job, so I’m not some all-knowing genius passing out wisdom from up on high, but what I do understand is probably the most important system of logic in society today: The argument. How do people believe what they believe? Why do they come to the conclusions they come to? Probably because as psychologist Frederic Neuman puts it, ‘seeing is not believing’, in fact, it’s the other way around: ‘To Believe is to see’ (Neuman 6).
Think of any belief you have. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Ok, you’re thinking of something you hold to be immutably true? What do the people who believe in the opposite look like? You’re picturing an idiot, or a fool, aren’t you? Maybe you’re a little more compassionate than that. Maybe you’re thinking, like I try to do, of someone who was raised in different circumstances than you. Someone who acknowledges that what they believe was first taught to them by a parent or adult when they were a kid, and they also acknowledge that yes, they were taught to believe this way, but even though they know they were indoctrinated (which has become a buzzword since it was used to slander Barack Obama in it’s own huge indoctrination campaign started by Fox News) they still hold fast to those beliefs. This issue becomes even more important when it seems that today more than ever people’s opinions and beliefs are made up by the media they choose to consume. I once watched a conversation from someone at google where they said that people using google tend to search for something they already know a little bit about, and then that because google is basically a tool for helping you find what you already want to find, you’re mostly going to get facts and opinions which already tell you the kernel of what you already know, just with more detail. Sadly, that was one aside in an interview which I can’t find online, so I could be making it all up. I could be full of shit. You can choose (or choose not to) believe me. But in another example, take for instance, this abstract of an article written by Bella DePaulo (. Long story short, there is a prevailing belief that it’s better to be married (or to have a partner in some capacity) than it is to be single (DePaulo). The idea is that if you’re in a relationship you’re going to be happier in general and life is better when you’re with somebody. Obviously most of us still want partners, but in the article the researcher points to the fact that we’re too busy looking for what we want to hear for some other idea to enter our head. DePaulo points out that if you look up the issue of marriage in the PsychINFO database, which is a database of psychology’s academic articles, that tens of thousands of articles come up in the search results. But if you look up articles on single people you get a pitiful 814 results.
Why is that? Because we’re looking for what we want to find. We’re not looking to be disturbed, or shaken up, or challenge our preconceived notions. Challenging your own belief is one of the hardest things to do in life, but it’s probably what we as both liberals and conservatives, need now more than ever. Maybe we should all sit down with each other and have a nice cup of Covfofe.
Neuman, Frederic. “Why Do People Hold to Their Beliefs So Stubbornly?” Psychology Today. Feb. 16, 2014. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/fighting-fear/201402/why-do-people-hold-their-beliefs-so-stubbornly>
DePaulo, Bella. “What No One Ever Told You About People Who Are Single”. Aug. 5, 2016 <https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2016/08/single-people.pdf>