February 17, 2011
Posted by Jay Livingston
“Moral clarity” always seemed to me like a self-flattering way of saying “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” Moral clarity turns the complicated into the simple. It reduces a complex issue into a choice between good and evil. William Bennett popularized the phrase in his arguments supporting the Iraq invasion. Terrorism is evil, therefore invading Iraq is good. Unfortunately, reality turned out to be a lot more complicated.
The call for “Moral Clarity” comes mostly from the right, and not just on fighting terrorism. Go to the “Center for Moral Clarity,” click on “Key National Issues,” and you’ll find support for “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” (be warned however that this page does not spell out the moral clarity of leaving 40 million Americans without health insurance).
Does this preference for the simple over the complex generally distinguish the political right wing from the left? (See an earlier post on this and tolerance for ambiguity here.) And does it carry over into other areas? Is the political also the personal?
OK Cupid is a dating site. It isn’t about terrorism or health care. But the people who run it (Harvard math grads who turn dating into data) have looked at the correlations and discovered some non-obvious connections. Looking to get lucky? Ask your prospective date if they like the taste of beer. Those who do, both men and women, are 60% more likely to say they would consider sleeping with someone on the first date.
The same sorts of questions fit with the idea that conservatives prefer simplicity both in politics and people.
Here were the political questions that these were based on.
On the surface, liking your peeps to be simple or complex shouldn’t have much to do with your position on gay marriage or creationism. But it does.
Posted by Jay Livingston at 1:42 PM