Who Is Really Close-minded?
Liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how limited their knowledge of conservative values is.
To be “close-minded” is, according to the dictionary, to be
“intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly
unreceptive to new ideas.” To be conservative and close-minded, according to popular portrayal, is a redundancy—a package deal that liberals can and do take for granted.
But University of Virginia Professor Jonathan Haidt’s new book The Righteous Mind
doesn’t simply suggest that conservatives may not be as close-minded as
they are portrayed. It proves that the opposite is the case, that
conservatives understand their ideological opposite numbers far better
than do liberals.
Haidt’s research asks individuals to answer questionnaires regarding
their core moral beliefs—what sorts of values they consider sacred,
which they would compromise on, and how much it would take to get them
to make those compromises. By themselves, these exercises are
interesting. (Try them online and see where you come out.)
But Haidt’s research went one step further, asking self-indentified conservatives to answer those questionnaires as if
they were liberals and for liberals to do the opposite. What Haidt
found is that conservatives understand liberals’ moral values better
than liberals understand where conservatives are coming from. Worse yet,
liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how
limited their knowledge of conservative values is. If anyone is
close-minded here it’s not conservatives.
As a conservative, you can defend your values against friends and
acquaintances who essentially just called you stupid and evil or you can
keep quiet. Conservatives usually choose the latter, but they are LISTENING and LEARNING.